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Full text of "Shaping our responses to violent and demeaning imagery in popular music : hearing before the Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, second session ... February 23, 1994"

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FEBRUARY  23,  1994 

Serial  No.  J-103-43 

Printed  for  the  use  of  the  Committee  on  the  Judiciary 





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S.  Hrg.  103-1005 











FEBRUARY  23,  1994 

Serial  No.  J-103-43 

Printed  for  the  use  of  the  Committee  on  the  Judiciary 


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For  sale  by  the  U.S.  Government  Printing  Office 
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EDWARD  M.  KENNEDY,  Massachusetts 
PATRICK  J.  LEAHY,  Vermont 
PAUL  SIMON,  IlUnois 
HERBERT  KOHL,  Wisconsin 

Cynthia  C.  Hogan,  Chief  Counsel 

Catherine  M.  Russell,  Staff  Director 

Sharon  Prost,  Minority  Chief  Counsel 

Mark  R.  Disler,  Minority  Staff  Director 

Jr.,  Delaware,  Chairman 
ORRIN  G.  HATCH,  Utah 
STROM  THURMOND,  South  CaroUna 
ALAN  K.  SIMPSON,  Wyoming 
ARLEN  SPECTER,  Pennsylvania 
HANK  BROWN,  Colorado 
LARRY  PRESSLER,  South  Dakota 

Subcommittee  'on  the  Juvenile  Justice 

HERBERT  KOHL,  Wisconsin,  Chairman 
JOSEPH  R.  BIDEN,  Jr.,  Delaware  WILLL^M  S.  COHEN,  Maine 


Jon  Leibowitz,  Chief  Counsel  and  Staff  Director 
KiM  Corthell,  Minority  Staff  Director 




Kohl,  Hon.  Herbert,  a  U.S.  Senator  from  the  State  of  Wisconsin  1 

Cohen,  Hon.  WiUiam  S.,  a  U.S.  Senator  from  the  State  of  Maine 2 

Moseley-Braun,  Hon.  Carol,  a  U.S.  Senator  from  the  State  of  Illinois  4 


Hon.  Maxine  Waters,  a  U.S.  Representative  from  the  State  of  California  7 

Panel  consisting  of  C.  Delores  Tucker,  chair,  National  Pohtical  Congress 
of  Black  Women;  Robert  T.M.  Phillips,  deputy  medical  director,  American 
Psychiatric  Association;  Michael  Eric  Dyson,  professor  of  American  Civiliza- 
tion and  Afro-American  Studies,  Brown  University;  Ron  Stallworth,  gang 
intelligence  coordinator,  Utah  Department  of  Public  Safety;  and  Darryl 
James,  founder,  Rap  Sheet  11 

Panel  consisting  of  Hilary  Rosen,  executive  vice  president.  Recording  Industry 
Association  of  America;  Steve  McKeever,  executive  vice  president  of  Talent 
and  Creative  Affairs,  Motown  Records;  Nicholas  Butterworth,  executive 
director.  Rock  the  Vote  Action  Project;  and  David  W.  Harleston,  president. 
Rush  Associated  Labels  59 

Panel  consisting  of  Dionne  Warwick,  singer;  Laura  Murphy  Lee,  director, 
Washington  Office,  American  Civil  Liberties  Union;  Wallace  R.  Bradley, 
co-founder,  No  Dope  Express;  Errol  Kenya  James,  National  Coordinating 
Committee,  Black  Student  Leadership  Network;  and  Keith  A.  Ridley,  IV, 
president  and  general  manager,  Ridley  Funeral  Establishment,  Incor- 
porated, Washington,  DC  85 


Bradley,  Wallace  R.:  Testimony 97 

Butterworth,  Nicholas: 

Testimony  67 

Prepared  statement  69 

Dyson,  Michael  Eric: 

Testimony  21 

Prepared  statement  25 

Harleston,  David  W.:  Testimony  71 

James,  Darryl:  Testimony  51 

James,  Errol  Kenya: 

Testimony  100 

Prepared  statement  101 

McKeever,  Steve:  Testimony  64 

Murphy  Lee,  Laura: 

Testimony  87 

Prepared  statement  90 

PhiUips,  Robert  T.M.: 

Testimony  14 

Prepared  statement  18 

Ridley,  Keith  A.:  Testimony  102 

Rosen,  Hilary: 

Testimony  59 

Prepared  statement  62 

Stallworth,  Ron: 

Testimony  34 

Prepared  statement  36 




Tucker,  C.  Delores:  Testimony 11 

Warwick,  Dionne:  Testimony  85 


Additional  Submissions  for  the  Record 

Letter  from  Lester  Swartz,  Toledo,  OH  to: 

Senator  Herbert  Kohl,  U.S.  Senate,  Washington,  DC,  Feb.  28,  1994  107 

Ms.  Kathy  Poston,  U.S.  Senate,  Washington,  DC,  Feb.  24,  1994 108 

Letter  to  Senator  Moseley-Braun,  U.S.  Senate,  Washington,  DC,  from  Harry 
Allen,  hip-hop  activist  and  media  assassin,  GPO  Box,  New  York,  NY,  Feb. 

21,  1994  Ill 

Various  articles  by  Harry  Allen  from: 

Essence  Magazine,  '^Hip-Hop  Madness,"  April  1989  114 

The  City  Sun,  "THE  BLACK  BOX,  Hip-HOp:  The  New  Jazz,"  Feb. 

17-23,  1988  120 

New  York  Newsday,  "If  You  Think  Rap  Is  Violent,  What  About 

Booze?",  Jan.  7,  1994  121 

Letter  to  Jamie  Schwing,  U.S.  Senate,  Washington,  DC,  from  Michael 
Lieberman,  associate  director/counsel,  Anti-Defamation  League,  Washing- 
ton, DC,  Mar.  4,  1994  122 

An  ADL  specisd  report: 

Hip  to  Hate  122 

Sounds  of  Hate  125 

Appendix  A,  skinhead  bands  Usted  in  the  catalogues  of  Rock-0-Rama 

records  (ROR)  and  Independent  Schallplatten  Vertrieb  (ISV) 129 

Appendix  B,  skinhead-related  homicides  in  the  United  States  130 



U.S.  Senate, 
Subcommittee  on  Juvenile  Justice, 

Committee  on  the  Judiciary, 

Washington,  DC. 

The  subcommittee  met,  pursuant  to  notice,  at  10:40  a.m.,  in  room 
SD-106,  Dirksen  Senate  Office  Building,  Hon.  Herbert  Kohl,  chair- 
man of  the  subcommittee,  presiding. 

Also  present:  Senator  Moseley-Braun,  and  Cohen. 


Senator  Kohl.  Good  morning.  We  welcome  you  here  this  morn- 
ing to  this  hearing  and  it  will  come  to  order. 

Our  topic  for  today  is  gangster  rap  and  other  popular  music  that 
is  violent,  racist,  antisemitic,  sexually  graphic,  or  demeaning  to- 
ward women.  As  we  begin,  I  would  like  to  commend  Senator  Carol 
Moseley-Braun  for  initiating  this  hearing,  one  that  continues  the 
subcommittee's  investigation  of  violence  in  our  society  and  how 
modem  media  may  be  contributing  to  it.  Senator  Moseley-Braun 
and  her  staff  have  worked  diligently  to  put  this  hearing  together 
and  she  deserves  our  appreciation  for  her  leadership.  When  I  have 
to  leave  shortly  for  another  appointment,  I  will  turn  the  gavel  over 
to  Senator  Moseley-Braun. 

Let  me  take  a  few  moments,  though,  to  enumerate  the  major  is- 
sues as  I  see  them.  First,  today's  hearing  has  created  controversy 
because  it  concerns  so-called  gangster  rap,  which  is  a  form  of  rap 
music  invented  by  and  for  the  most  part  performed  by  African 
American  musicians.  But  while  this  particular  style  of  music  has 
received  the  bulk  of  the  media  attention,  it  is  clear  that  the  prob- 
lem of  violent  and  explicit  music  extends  much  further. 

Many  forms  of  rock  and  heavy  metal  music  performed  largely  by 
white  artists  delivers  the  same  ugly  message  and,  in  fact,  most  rap 
music  is  not  violent  and  much  of  it  reflects  reality.  So  it  is  not  just 
rappers  and  some  record  company  executives  who  ought  to  be 
ashamed  of  what  they  are  teaching  our  children.  It  is  also  every 
other  self-proclaimed  artist  who  distorts  reality  and  promotes  vio- 
lence as  a  way  to  make  a  dollar. 

At  the  outset,  then,  we  need  to  set  the  record  straight.  We  are 
concerned  about  the  content  of  the  messages  and  not  the  color  of 
the  messengers,  and  anyone  who  views  this  issue  differently  is  see- 
ing it  through  clouded  lenses. 


Second,  as  we  have  learned  from  our  recent  debate  about  video 
game  and  television  violence,  constant  exposure  to  violent  and  ex- 
plicit material  clearly  causes  harm  to  our  children,  and  the  bad 
acts  of  just  a  few  members  of  any  industry  can  poison  the  public's 
perception  of  the  whole  group.  So  we  are  here  to  discuss  what,  if 
any,  steps  the  music  industry  wants  to  take  to  minimize  the  impact 
of  violent  music  on  our  kids  and  minimize  public  anger  toward  the 

In  my  mind,  that  may  mean  developing  an  independent  rating 
system  along  the  lines  of  what  the  motion  picture  industry  has 
done  and  what  the  video  game  industry  is  doing  right  now  at  this 
subcommittee's  insistence.  We  look  forward  to  hearing  the  wit- 
nesses' views  on  this  approach. 

Most  of  us  believe  that  if  the  recording  industry  makes  this  issue 
a  top  priority,  then  it  will  move  toward  a  solution,  and  that  is  what 
should  happen.  The  industry  ought  to  address  this  problem  itself 
before  the  Government  intrudes  too  deeply  and  raises  the  specter 
of  censorship. 

In  fairness,  let  me  point  out  that  the  music  industry  is  not  the 
only  or  even  a  major  cause  of  the  carnage  that  we  confront  in  our 
large  cities  and  in  our  small  towns  across  our  country.  As  we  all 
know,  there  are  many  other  causes — poverty,  too  easy  access  to 
firearms,  inferior  education,  broken  families,  gangs  and  drugs.  But 
that  is  no  excuse  for  ignoring  the  impact  of  violent  images  on  our 
kids,  nor  for  neglecting  our  obligation  as  citizens  to  help  improve 
rather  than  to  denigrate  our  society. 

We  are  all  in  this  together.  Anything  that  may  encourage  our 
children  to  participate  in  violence  just  to  make  a  dollar  needs  to 
be  addressed,  and  we  have  to  find  a  way  to  reduce  the  influences 
that  are  so  ruinous  to  our  children  because  if  we  do  not  take  a 
close,  hard  look  at  what  we  are  actually  buying  for  our  kids,  then 
we  will  become  a  society  that  we  do  not  want  to  live  in. 

Senator  Cohen? 


Senator  COHEN.  Thank  you  very  much,  Mr.  Chairman.  I  want  to 
associate  myself  with  the  remarks  that  you  have  just  made.  I  have 
a  formal  statement  I  would  like  to  introduce  in  the  record,  but  will 
offer  just  a  few  comments. 

I  think  for  me,  at  least,  words  have  always  had  consequences. 
We  learned  in  Orwell's  1984  that  the  debasement  of  language  is  a 
precursor  to  a  debasement  of  values.  If  you  repeat  words  long 
enough,  even  if  they  are  lies,  they  take  on  the  aroma  or  the  appear- 
ance or  the  patina  of  truth.  Therefore,  you  could  say  over  and  over 
again  hate  is  love,  war  is  peace,  slavery  is  freedom,  and  2  +  2  = 
5  or  6,  or  whatever  the  Government  says  it  should  equal.  So  words 
have  consequences  if  they  are  repeated  often  enough. 

I  finished  reading  last  night  Nathan  McHale's  book.  Makes  Me 
Want  to  Holler,  and  I  was  struck  by  his  statement  that  he  really 
hadn't  turned  to  a  life  of  drug-selling  or  drug-dealing  until  he  saw 
the  film  "Superfly,"  and  suddenly  that  became  his  hero  and  he  de- 
cided that  was  the  way  to  personal  respect  and  prosperity. 

Chairman  Kohl,  you  have  pointed  out  not  all  rap  songs  involve 
the  denigration  of  women,  and  of  black  women,  in  particular.  But 
according  to  the  lyrics  of  some  rap  songs,  every  woman  is  simply 
a  ho,  nothing  more  than  a  cavity  that  has  got  to  be  either  ripped 
or  filled  by  a  train,  a  gang  rape. 

Some  of  the  witnesses  today,  I  suspect,  are  going  to  testify  that 
this  is  simply  a  reflection  of  life  as  it  is  in  the  ghetto,  of  attitudes, 
or  should  I  say  values  in  the  ghetto  or  in  the  hood,  and  that  every 
such  expression  is  simply  art,  or  rarified  into  art,  and  therefore 
protected  by  the  Constitution. 

It  is  my  own  view  that  a  few  rappers  are  getting  very  rich  and 
a  few  record  companies  are  getting  even  richer.  Frankly,  they  don't 
care  whether  generations  of  young  people,  mostly  black  or  other 
minorities,  are  sliding  into  moral  bankmptcy  or  the  local  morgues. 
They  are  just  telling  it  and  selling  it  like  it  is.  Now,  that  is  not  me 
saying  this.  I  noted  with  some  interest  yesterday  a  column  in  the 
Washington  Post  written  by  Donna  Britt  and  she  talked  about  a 
young  girl  who  grew  up  in  a  nice  home,  nice  parents,  nice  private 
school,  attended  the  nicest  of  Detroit  colleges,  et  cetera.  For  a  cou- 
ple of  years,  she  was  really  nice,  sweet  as  pie,  they  say. 

In  concert  and  on  albums,  she  is  not  so  nice — rap  stuff  like  "I 
don't  give  a,"  expletive  deleted,  "about  any  of  you"  to  appreciative 
fans;  poses  with  automatic  weapons,  sings  "They  wonder  why  they 
label  me  insane  because  I  loaded  the  clip  and  took  a  nine  to  the 
copper's  brain."  She  and  her  girl  tried  rapping  nice,  but  nice  gets 
no  respect,  makes  no  bank,  gets  no  contracts.  Producers,  she  said, 
"Were  telling  us  we  didn't  curse  enough.  No  one  signed  Boss  up. 
Nineties  people  know  all  there  is  about  getting  signed  up.  Once, 
women  slept  around  to  get  famous.  Now,  they  just  brag  about 
snuffing  folks.  Hear  us  roar,"  and  it  goes  on. 

So  some  people  are  going  to  the  bank,  and  a  lot  of  kids  are  going 
to  the  morgue. 

It  is  somewhat  ironic  that  we  are  celebrating  Black  Month  this 
month.  There  is  a  new  book  out.  Encyclopedia  of  Black  Women  in 
History  which  is  an  extraordinary  volume.  On  the  cover  of  Time 
Magazine  this  week  is  a  picture  of  Louis  Farrakhan  and  in  it  are 
stories  about  Mr.  Farrakhan  and  one  of  his  aides,  Khalid  Abdul 
Muhammad,  who,  of  course,  has  attacked  Jews,  Catholics,  homo- 
sexuals, the  white  community. 

I  wondered  as  I  was  reading  this  article  again  last  evening  if  the 
recording  industry  would  think  that  his  message  of  telling  it  like 
it  is,  as  he  sees  it,  should  be  put  on  tape  and  marketed  because, 
according  to  Time  Magazine,  many  blacks  now  believe  that  Mr. 
Farrakhan  speaks  for  them.  It  seems  to  me  the  difference  between 
Mr.  Farrakhan's  message  of  hate  and  that  of  some  of  the  rappers, 
not  all,  but  some  of  the  rappers,  is  that  the  rappers  are  only  de- 
grading black  women  and  not  the  greater  society  at  large. 

So  I  come  here  with  some,  not  apprehension,  but  at  least  a  sense 
of  ambiguity  as  to  what  the  role  of  the  recording  industry  ought  to 
be,  what  the  role  of  Government  ought  to  be,  but  at  least  I  think 
willing  to  listen  to  the  voices  of  the  people  who  really  live  on  the 
front  lines  and  come  from  the  hood  or  who  come  from  poverty,  who 
have  experienced  racism,  who  are,  in  fact,  artists,  who  do  speak  for 
many,  many  people  out  there  who  are  disadvantage  and  deprived 

and  oppressed,  and  to  listen  to  what  they  have  to  say  as  to  what 
the  correct  course  of  action  is. 

I  appreciate  your  holding  the  hearing.  I  want  to  commend  my 
colleague,  Senator  Moseley-Braun.  She  has  really  done  a  great  deal 
to  raise  everyone's  consciousness  about  the  need  to  address  this 

Thank  you  very  much. 

[The  prepared  statement  of  Senator  Cohen  was  not  available  at 
press  time.] 


Senator  KOHL.  Senator  Moseley-Braun? 

Senator  Moseley-Braun  [presiding].  Thank  you  very  much.  I 
want  to  begin,  ]VIr.  Chairman,  by  thanking  you  for  agreeing  to  hold 
this  hearing.  Since  joining  this  subcommittee,  I  have  been  deeply 
impressed  by  your  dedication  to  the  children  of  America,  dem- 
onstrated by  your  legislation  to  ban  the  possession  of  handguns  by 
minors  and  more  recently  by  your  efforts  to  keep  violent  and 
misogynistic  video  games  out  of  the  hands  of  young  children. 

Many  of  the  issues  that  were  raised  in  the  context  of  video  games 
apply  here  also;  namely,  what  effect,  if  any,  do  brutally  violent, 
vulgar  and  sexist  music  lyrics  have  on  our  Nation's  children,  and 
what,  if  anything,  are  we,  those  of  us  who  are  adults  in  Congress, 
in  the  industry  and  in  society,  prepared  to  do  about  it. 

As  anyone  who  watches  the  news  or  picks  up  a  paper  is  aware, 
violence  is  quickly  becoming  this  Nation's  number  one  public 
health  problem.  Nowhere  is  this  problem  more  pronounced  than 
among  our  Nation's  children.  Childhood  for  all  too  many  has  ceased 
to  be  a  time  of  innocence  and  instead  has  become  a  daily  struggle 
to  stay  alive.  Seven-year-old  children  are  gun  down  on  their  walk 
to  school,  while  11-year-olds  make  plans  for  their  own  funerals. 

Of  course,  the  young  are  no  longer  merely  the  victims  of  violence, 
they  are  also  perpetrators.  Between  1987  and  1991,  arrests  for 
murder  among  the  general  population  rose  21  percent.  However, 
among  juveniles,  that  increase  was  a  shocking  85  percent. 

Even  more  alarming  is  the  link  between  violent  juvenile  crime 
and  guns.  By  1990,  nearly  three  out  of  four  juvenile  murders  were 
committed  with  guns.  Juveniles  now  account  for  1  out  of  every  5 
weapons  arrests  in  the  country,  and  approximately  135,000  stu- 
dents carry  guns  to  school  every  day. 

The  causes  for  this  dramatic  escalation  in  youth  crime  and  vio- 
lence are  numerous.  Poverty,  the  breakdown  of  the  family,  the  lack 
of  real  education  and  job  opportunities  are  all  issues  which  have 
to  be  addressed.  But  there  is  another  contributing  factor  that  we 
can  no  longer  afford  to  ignore.  As  a  society,  particularly  our  young 
children  are  becoming  increasingly  desensitized  to  violence.  Media 
images  of  murder,  assault  and  rape  bombard  us  on  a  daily  basis. 
Years  of  scientific  research  have  demonstrated  that  the  more  vio- 
lent television  a  child  views,  the  more  aggressive  that  child  be- 

The  influence  of  music  on  child  development  is  no  less  profound. 
According  to  a  1989  report  in  the  Journal  of  American  Medicine, 
between  7th  and  12th  grades  the  average  teenager  listens  to  10,500 

hours  of  music,  an  amount  of  time  that  is  slightly  less  than  the 
number  of  hours  spent  in  school  from  kindergarten  through  high 
school.  To  deny  that  this  music  has  an  impact  on  our  children  is 
not  merely  naive,  it  is  irresponsible. 

Inevitably,  whenever  attention  is  focused  on  violence  in  the 
media,  whether  it  be  in  music  or  television  or  video  games,  many 
in  the  industry  will  cry  foul  and  censorship.  After  all,  industry  crit- 
ics maintain  the  recording  industry  or  the  television  industry  or 
the  video  game  industry  did  not  create  this  epidemic  of  violence 
that  is  plaguing  our  society,  and  that  certainly  is  true. 

But  that  does  not  mean  that  we  can  ignore  the  substantial  and 
growing  body  of  scientific  research  indicating  a  clear  link  between 
exposure  to  violent  music  and  a  corresponding  increase  in  violent 
attitudes  and  behavior.  It  is  simply  wrong  to  say  that  just  because 
there  are  a  number  of  other  causes  of  violence  in  the  society  we 
should  ignore  the  obvious  impact  of  explicit  music  lyrics. 

Of  course,  ignoring  the  evidence  is  far  from  unprecedented.  The 
tobacco  industry  has  done  it  for  decades,  ignoring  the  original  Sur- 
geon General's  report  and  every  scientific  study  since  then  indicat- 
ing that  smoking  cigarettes  causes  cancer.  But  the  tobacco  indus- 
try's failure  to  acknowledge  the  facts  about  cigarettes  did  not  make 
those  facts  any  less  true. 

I  hope,  therefore,  that  we  will  not  spend  our  time  here  today  de- 
bating whether  violence  and  hate  in  music  lyrics  can  have  an  im- 
pact on  our  children  or  is  a  cause  for  concern.  Based  on  the  clear 
and  substantial  evidence,  we  have  every  right  to  be  concerned 
about  the  messages  that  are  produced  and  sold  for  a  profit  to  our 
children.  And  make  no  mistake,  the  bottom  line  is  profit. 

The  recording  industry  earned  $10  billion  nationwide  in  1992.  Al- 
though estimates  as  to  what  percentage  of  that  figure  comes  from 
rap  music  vary,  ranging  from  a  low  of  $780  million  to  a  high  of 
$1.37  billion,  it  is  obvious  that  rap  music,  like  music  in  general,  is 
big  business.  We  read  stories  where  rappers  are  actually  encour- 
aged by  people  in  the  music  industry  to  adopt  a  more  violent  per- 
sona. One  anonymous  executive  even  commented  that  the  recent 
arrest  of  a  musician  should  assure  that  his  album  went  platinum. 
We  see  the  millions  and  millions  spent  to  promote  stars  who  seem 
to  compete  with  one  another  as  to  who  can  be  the  most  violent.  We 
see  extremely  brutal,  vulgar  and  misogynistic  music  mainstreamed 
across  this  Nation. 

Obviously,  the  issue  here  today  involves  much  more  than  just  the 
right  of  artists  to  create  and  perform  the  music  of  violence  and 
hate  if  they  so  choose.  What  is  at  issue  is  whether  the  music  indus- 
try that  makes  so  much  money  from  these  lyrics  has  a  responsibil- 
ity for  the  type  of  music  it  promotes  and  disseminates.  Should  the 
question  of  whether  or  not  an  album  sells  be  the  only  issue  that 
concerns  the  industry,  or  do  those  involved  in  the  creation,  per- 
formance, promotion,  production  and  distribution  of  these  lyrics 
have  any  responsibility  to  all  of  our  children,  to  all  of  our  families 
and  to  all  of  our  communities? 

Before  I  conclude  my  remarks,  I  would  like  to  make  three  final 
points.  First,  this  hearing  was  not  called  to  condemn  all  rap  music. 
As  a  matter  of  fact,  the  other  day  I  was  traveling  through  O'Hare 
from  Chicago  coming  here  and  a  group  of  young  men  came  up  to 

me — they  get  younger  by  the  day,  by  the  way,  but  they  came  up 
to  me  pleading  not  to  take  away  their  rap  music.  Let  me  assure 
you  and  assure  those  young  men  that  that  is  not  my  intention. 

Every  generation  has  its  own  form  of  music  and  its  own  form  of 
expression.  I  strongly  believe  that  rap  music  is  an  important  and 
diverse  art  form  that  often  speaks  to  many  Americans  in  a  way 
that  no  other  form  of  media  can.  It  is  a  cultural  expression  for  this 
generation,  in  the  main.  There  are  messages  in  these  songs  to 
which  we  all  should  indeed  be  listening.  Nonetheless,  it  seems  to 
me  that  there  are  some  who  have  taken  this  art  form  so  far  and 
are  using  it  simply  for  shock  value  and  to  make  money  at  our  chil- 
dren's expense. 

The  second  thing  I  would  like  to  point  out  is  that  this  hearing 
is  not  just  about  rap  music.  Rap  music  did  not  invent  explicit 
lyrics;  it  is  merely  the  latest  on  a  long  line  of  music  lyrics  that  glo- 
rify violence  and  the  physical  and  sexual  abuse  of  women  and  mi- 

Finally,  this  hearing  is  not  about  government  censorship. 
Throughout  my  career,  I  have  been  a  strong  supporter  of  the  first 
amendment.  In  fact,  I  spent  10  years  in  the  Illinois  Legislature  and 
have  a  record  that  is  consistent  in  my  support  for  the  first  amend- 
ment and  my  support  for  speech,  for  expression  and  for  the  arts. 
I  am  a  devotee  of  the  arts  and  I  would  be  among  the  first  to  object 
to  the  use  of  government  censorship  as  a  solution  to  violence  in  the 

But  the  fact  remains  that  along  with  rights  come  responsibilities. 
Those  in  the  industry  cannot  dodge  their  responsibilities  to  society 
and  to  our  children  by  hiding  behind  the  first  amendment.  The 
first  amendments  states  that  the  Government  shall  make  no  law 
abridging  freedom  of  speech.  It  does  not  say  that  corporations 
should  take  no  responsibility  to  monitor  the  content  of  material 
they  market  to  the  public.  Just  because  something  can  be  sold  to 
the  public  does  not  necessarily  mean  that  it  should,  and  particu- 
larly I  would  underscore  that  message  with  regard  to  our  children. 
Corporate  and  personal  responsibility  underscore  the  foundation  of 
our  freedoms,  including  the  freedom  of  speech  and  expression. 

I  am  av/are  that  the  recording  industry  has  taken  steps  to  affix 
a  warning  label  of  sorts  on  some  explicit  albums.  Whether  or  not 
that  label  is  sufficient  is  another  issue  that  we  can  address  today. 

Senator  Kohl,  in  closing  I  would  simply  like  to  say  that  I  realize 
that  far  too  many  of  our  children  grow  up  in  a  world  where  vio- 
lence is  part  and  parcel  of  everyday  existence.  Changing  those  con- 
ditions is  one  of  the  very  reasons  I  ran  for  the  U.S.  Senate.  I  was 
talking  just  now  with  one  of  the  photographers  and  I  mentioned  to 
her  that  I  decided  to  run  for  the  Senate  when  my  16-year-old  son 
said  to  me,  you  know,  mom,  your  generation  has  left  this  world 
worse  off  than  you  found  it.  That  was  enough  of  an  incentive  for 
me  to  decide  to  try  to  make  a  difference  and  contribute  to  this  proc- 

To  the  extent  that  music  lyrics  glorify  and  contribute  to  that  vio- 
lence, we  in  the  Congress  have  jurisdiction  and  all  of  us  have  a  re- 
sponsibility to  examine  them.  Before  I  end,  there  is  a  question  I 
would  like  everyone,  but  particularly  those  in  the  industry,  to  think 
about.  What  happens  to  the  child  who  has  been  raised  on  a  daily 

diet  of  brutality,  the  child  who  witnesses  8,000  murders  before  fin- 
ishing elementary  school  and  who,  through  the  use  of  video  games, 
actually  murders  another  human  being,  ripping  out  his  heart,  and 
on  top  of  that  listens  to  music  advocating  the  rape  of  young  women 
and  the  shooting  of  other  human  beings?  The  effect  on  that  child 
and  his  or  her  family  is  what  this  hearing  was  called  to  address. 

So  now,  Mr.  Chairman,  with  your  permission,  I  would  like  to  call 
the  first  witness,  the  Honorable  Maxine  Waters  of  California,  and 
ask  her  to  have  a  seat  at  the  table. 

Congress  woman  Waters,  let  me  say  before  we  start  with  your  ac- 
tual testimony,  because  we  have  a  long  witness  list  we  are  going 
to  use  this  control  box  to  limit  the  time  of  the  testimony.  Those 
who  are  testifying  should  be  aware  that  the  green  light  tells  you 
to  go,  the  yellow  is  winding  down,  and  the  red  is  the  time,  hope- 
fully, to  stop,  but  obviously  we  will  extend  courtesy  to  those  who 
haven't  completed  a  thought  or  their  statement.  But  we  would  like 
to  adhere  as  much  as  possible  to  the  time  frame  for  this  hearing. 
That  is  the  first  point. 

Second,  there  are  groups  distributing  lyrics  at  this  hearing.  Ev- 
eryone should  be  warned  that  some  of  them  are  offensive  and  some 
of  them  are  explicit,  but  that  this  is  not  an  official  publication  of 
this  committee,  but  rather  is  a  supplement  to  the  testimony  being 
given  by  some  of  the  witnesses. 

So,  again,  Congresswoman  Waters,  welcome  and  thank  you  for 
coming  today. 


Ms.  Waters.  Thank  you  very  much.  Thank  you  very  much.  Sen- 
ator Moseley-Braun  and  members  of  the  committee  for  the  oppor- 
tunity to  testify  at  this  hearing  on  the  effects  of  music  lyrics  on  our 
Nation's  youth.  Our  children  and  our  youth  are  our  Nation's  most 
valuable  resource.  Simply  put,  they  are  our  future.  They  are  our 
sons  and  daughters,  nieces,  nephews,  grandsons,  granddaughters. 

I  want  to  talk  today  about  rap  music,  particularly  gangster  rap. 
It  is  a  music  form  that  originated  in  Los  Angeles,  a  portion  of 
which  I  represent  in  Congress.  It  was  born  out  of  the  frustration 
and  hopelessness,  the  raw  energy  and  alienation  among  young  peo- 
ple that  also  gave  rise  to  the  rebellion  22  months  ago. 

These  are  my  children.  Indeed,  they  are  your  children,  too.  They 
have  invented  this  art  form  originally  to  describe  their  pains  and 
fears  and  anger  with  us  as  adults.  I  do  not  intend  to  marginalize 
them  or  demean  them.  Rather,  I  take  responsibility  for  trying  to 
understand  what  they  are  saying.  I  want  to  find  a  way  to  embrace 
them  and  to  transform  them. 

We  cannot  look  at  the  children  and  young  people  growing  up 
without  a  future  and  expect  that  somehow  they  are  going  to  grow 
up  to  be  wholesome  adults  who  won't  be  angry,  who  won't  cause 
us  problems.  When  a  child  is  sick  and  uncared  for,  surrounded  by 
violence  and  substance  abuse,  he  or  she  becomes  a  scarred  young 
man  or  young  woman.  Experience  is  a  hard  taskmaster. 

So  I  have  a  profound  respect  for  the  talented  ones  who  know  that 
they  are  talented.  If  it  had  been  left  up  to  this  industry,  these  tal- 
ents would  never  have  been  discovered.  These  young  people  went 


into  their  garages  and  their  basements  and  they  created  this  art 
form;  they  created  rap.  The  industry  didn't  want  them.  It  did  not 
embrace  them.  They  did  not  want  their  music.  There  was  no  room 
for  them  on  radio  or  television  long  before  it  was  gangster  rap. 

These  young  people  persisted.  They  didn't  care  whether  radio 
played  them  or  not.  They  had  their  own  distribution  systems,  their 
own  labels,  and  they  sold  them  out  of  their  cars  and  on  the  streets. 
I  want  to  share  some  lyrics  with  you  because  you  are  going  to  hear 
today  and  see  a  lot  of  lyrics  that  are  unacceptable,  that  are  hard 
on  the  ears  and  that  embarrass  us.  But  I  want  to  share  with  you 
some  lyrics  because  I  want  you  to  also  understand  that  some  of 
those  who  have  lyrics  that  you  don't  like  also  have  some  very  pro- 
found and  painful  lyrics: 

As  I  look  up  at  the  sky,  my  mind  starts  tripping.  A  tear  drops  from  my  eye.  My 
body  temperature  falls.  I  am  shaking  and  they  break  in  trjdng  to  save  the  dog. 
Pumping  on  my  chest  and  I  am  screaming.  I  stop  breathing.  I  see  demons.  Dear 
Grod,  I  wonder  can  you  save  me.  My  boo-boo  is  about  to  have  a  baby  and  I  think 
it  is  too  late  for  praying.  A  voice  spoke  to  me  and  it  slowly  started  saying  'Bring 
your  lifestyle  to  me  and  I  will  make  it  better.'  How  long  will  I  live?  Eternal  life  and 
forever.  I  will  make  your  life  a  lot  better  than  you  can  imagine  or  you  can  dream 
of  So  relax  your  soul.  Let  me  take  control.  Close  your  eyes,  my  son. 

The  writer  is  one  that  you  are  going  to  hear  a  lot  about,  Snoop 
Doggy  Dog.  He  and  his  peers  have  been  charged  with  glorifying 
criminal  behavior,  denigrating  women  and,  in  fact,  causing  the  hor- 
rifying reality  of  our  society  today.  But  if  we  stop  to  think,  we 
know  that  Snoop,  Ice  Cube,  Ice  T,  Queen  Latifah,  Dr.  Dre,  Yo  Yo — 
we  know  what  they  are  saying,  and  indeed  they  are  artists  and 
they  are  indeed  poets.  They  paint  the  world  as  they  see  it  with 
their  words  and  their  music,  and  they  feel  the  pain.  They  long  for 
hope.  They  despair  of  change.  They  long  for  meaning. 

Humans  have  always  created  art  to  express  their  pain,  their 
hope  and  their  despair.  We  all  remember  the  cherished  spirituals 
that  grew  out  of  the  blood  and  tears  of  our  ancestors  here  in  Amer- 
ica as  they  suffered  on  white  plantations. 

Yes,  many  good  people  are  genuinely  offended  and  others  are 
deeply  concerned  about  rap  music,  and  they  have  a  right  to  oppose 
the  music  and  to  express  their  opinions.  There  are  few  who  would 
defend  freedom  of  speech  in  a  case  like  this  when  it  is  not  so  easy, 
but  let  us  take  a  closer  look  at  what  has  been  said  and  what  are 
the  consequences. 

First,  the  words.  Some  are  concerned  about  the  image  of  the 
black  community,  some  of  the  words  you  will  hear  and  what  they 
describe.  Some  of  these  words,  I  must  confess,  I  am  offended  by 
and  some  insulted  by,  as  others  are.  I  really  do  genuinely  respect 
what  some  are  feeling  and  how  some  feel  offended  and  demeaned 
by  such  words,  but  I  have  to  tell  you  all,  I  didn't  first  hear  these 
words  when  Snoop  said  them.  I  didn't  hear  these  words  for  the  first 
time  with  gangster  rap.  Many  of  them  I  heard  when  I  was  a  kid 
growing  up  in  St.  Louis  in  my  neighborhood,  and  some  of  those 
folks  were  highly  esteemed,  church-going  folks.  I  don't  encourage 
the  use  of  obscenities.  I  just  think  we  should  stop  pretending  we 
are  hearing  them  for  the  first  time.  I  am  more  truly  bothered  and 
grieved,  however,  by  the  painful  landscapes  these  songs  paint — 
story  after  story  about  young  black  men  losing  their  way  and  losing 
their  fight  in  this  Nation  of  ours. 

Second,  let  us  talk  about  the  message.  Liberals  and  conservatives 
alike  express  the  concern  that  rap  music  causes  violence.  In  part, 
this  is  a  reaction  to  the  fear  of  crime  and  violence  that  has  spread 
across  this  land.  Liberals  sometimes  are  looking  for  a  solution. 
Could  there  be  a  connection  between  art  and  violence,  they  ask.  If 
we  ban  music  about  the  violent  reality  of  our  inner  cities,  will  that 
end  the  violence? 

Some  conservatives,  meanwhile,  are  having  a  field  day,  not  all 
but  some.  Many  of  them  have  always  believed  that  blacks  cause 
most  of  the  crime  in  America.  After  all,  they  argue,  look  at  the  in- 
ordinately high  number  of  blacks  in  prison  and  on  death  row. 

Let  us  not  lose  sight  of  what  the  real  problem  is.  It  is  not  the 
words  being  used.  It  is  the  reality  they  are  rapping  about.  For  dec- 
ades, many  of  us  have  talked  about  the  lives  and  the  hopes  of  our 
people,  the  pain  and  the  hopelessness,  the  deprivation  and  destruc- 
tion. Rap  music  is  communicating  that  reality  in  a  way  we  never 
have.  Someone  has  described  it  as  the  CNN  of  the  black  commu- 
nity, causing  people  from  every  sector,  including  black  leadership, 
to  sit  up  and  take  notice. 

Let  me  share  with  you  what  I  see  in  rap  music  and  what  I  be- 
lieve it  can  mean  for  our  communities  and  the  future  of  our  young 
people.  The  key  word  here  is  transformation.  Rap  music  will,  both 
figuratively  and  literally,  play  a  role  in  transforming  the  lives  of 
our  urban  youth.  For  the  past  3  years,  I  have  brought  rap  artists 
to  the  Congressional  Black  Caucus'  annual  legislative  weekend.  I 
created  this  forum  because  I  knew  what  was  coming.  I  wanted  us 
to  get  to  know  them  and  to  interact  with  them.  I  wanted  them  to 
tell  us  what  was  going  on  with  the  music  and  in  the  industry. 

I  do  this  because  I  am  in  the  business  of  transformation.  I  do  not 
isolate,  I  do  not  marginalize,  nor  do  I  confront  young  people.  I  be- 
lieve that  by  including  young  people  who  have  been  excluded,  we 
can  influence  them  and  we  can  transform  them. 

At  last  year's  CBC  meeting,  I  hosted  a  young  man  whom  I  love 
dearly.  His  name  is  Tragedy.  He  used  to  call  himself  the  Intelligent 
Hoodlum.  Tragedy  told  us  about  his  life.  He  told  us  about  his  moth- 
er, who  was  on  drugs.  He  talked  about  how  now  he  was  making 
money  and  about  how  he  is  responsible  for  his  mother's  rehabilita- 
tion and  how  well  she  is  doing.  We  talk  constantly,  and  always  he 
is  asking  me,  Ms.  Waters,  can  I  come  to  Congress  and  talk  to  them 
about  who  we  are  and  what  we  are  doing? 

Queen  Latifah  was  at  my  women's  group,  the  Black  Women's 
Forum  of  Los  Angeles.  It  is  a  cross-section  of  women,  but  mostly 
upper  middle-class  women  who  earn  good  money  and  who  come 
from  strong  backgrounds.  Queen  Latifah  received  a  standing  ova- 
tion from  women  who  thought  they  would  never  sit  in  the  same 
room  with  a  rap  artist.  They  didn't  understand  how  profound  she 
was  or  how  much  she  really  cared. 

I  am  involving  rappers  in  what  may  be  the  biggest  and  most  im- 
portant work  of  my  career  in  public  service.  Following  the  rebellion 
in  Los  Angeles,  the  Black  Women's  Forum  and  I  created  a  small 
but  successful  pilot  program  to  engage  a  few  of  the  thousands  of 
young  adults  17  to  30  years  old  who  have  fallen  out  of  the  main- 


We  took  young  men  who  wanted  a  way  out  of  hopelessness  and 
hustling  drugs  and  despair.  The  program  succeeded  beyond  our 
wildest  expectations.  Some  of  these  young  men  are  now  enrolled  in 
college.  They  are  pulling  their  lives  together,  thanks  to  a  helping 
hand.  Now,  we  are  expanding  that  pilot  project  in  a  full-scale  effort 
called  "L.A.  17-30."  This  program  is  in  addition  to  the  $50  million 
in  funding  we  won  in  last  year's  mini-economic  stimulus  for  pilot 
17-30  programs  in  cities  across  the  country. 

On  the  private  side,  in  Los  Angeles  we  have  won  support  from 
the  entertainment  industry  to  support  5,000  young  people  who 
want  to  clean  up  their  acts  and  reenter  the  mainstream.  Some  of 
that  support  comes  from  Snoop  Doggy  Dog,  Dr.  Dre,  Ice  Cube  and 
Ice  T.  We  will  hit  the  streets  and  identify  these  young  people  who 
are  the  real-life  people  described  by  rap  music,  living  on  the  fringe 
in  a  shadow  world. 

L.A.  17  to  30  will  enroll  participants  in  vocational  education,  job 
training,  high  school  equivalency  or  community  college.  The  enroU- 
ees  will  receive  a  stipend  of  $50  a  week  to  cover  necessities,  includ- 
ing lunch  money  and  transportation.  For  every  50  enrollees,  we 
will  have  a  qualified  case  worker  who  will  work  to  keep  his  or  her 
participants  on  the  straight  and  narrow.  His  or  her  task  is  to  so- 
cialize and  mainstream,  operating  with  low  overhead  and  a  special 
17  to  30  phone  in  their  homes.  Case  managers  will  meet  with  their 
enrollees  once  a  week  and,  between  meetings,  work  in  the  streets, 
in  the  homes,  in  the  schools  to  deal  with  each  individual's  special 
problems.  We  want  to  see  these  young  people,  mostly  black  and 
Latino  young  men,  receive  the  job  training,  the  education  and  the 
life  skills  necessary  to  become  independent. 

The  cost  for  this  program  for  1  year  alone  is  $17  million.  I  have 
received  an  enthusiastic  response  from  the  entertainment  industry, 
in  general,  and  the  rap  community,  in  particular.  The  rap  commu- 
nity is  eager  to  help.  I  am  grateful  for  their  commitment  and  their 

Rap  is  here  to  stay.  Madam  Chairwoman.  Like  jazz,  rhythm  and 
blues,  and  rock  and  roll  before  them,  it  is  entering  the  mainstream. 
A  lot  of  money,  yes,  is  being  made.  There  is  a  lot  of  art  and  a  lot 
of  talent  involved.  These  rappers  cannot  be  described  as  all  being 
cold,  uncaring  criminals.  They  are  your  children  and  they  are  my 
children.  They  are  young  people  who  have  been  isolated  and,  until 
now,  denied  the  opportunity  to  say  who  they  are  and  how  they  feel. 
They  have  a  message  that  is  forcing  America  to  listen. 

I  do  not  marginalize  or  disrespect  those  who  feel  that  it  is  too 
much  to  bear,  and  I  think  this  kind  of  hearing  is  good  to  talk  about 
it,  I  am  adamantly  opposed  to  censorship,  but  I  want  us  to  find 
ways  to  embrace  and  to  transform  rather  than  to  confront,  isolate 
and  marginalize. 

Thank  you  very  much  for  allowing  me  the  opportunity  to  testify 
today.  [Applause.] 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Thank  you  very  much.  I  have  no  ques- 
tions of  this  witness.  Thank  you  again  very  much. 

Ms.  Waters.  Thank  you  very  much. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  We  would  like  now  to  call  panel  two. 
Dr.  C.  Delores  Tucker,  Dr.  Robert  Phillips,  Michael  Eric  Dyson, 


Sergeant  Ron  Stallworth,  and  Mr.  Darryl  James  will  come  to  the 
witness  table. 

First  off,  I  would  like  to  thank  all  of  you  for  coming  and  for  testi- 
fying. I  have  copies  of  your  testimony  and,  again,  in  the  interests 
of  time  if  you  can  summarize — not  summarize;  we  don't  want  to 
leave  anything  out,  but  if  you  can  give  us  a  synopsis  of  your  writ- 
ten testimony  and  just  speak  from  your  mind  and  your  heart  to 
make  the  points  that  you  want  to  make  to  this  panel  today  and  to 
the  people  here  assembled,  we  would  appreciate  it. 

I  would  like  to  start  with  Dr.  C.  Delores  Tucker,  who  is  the  Na- 
tional Chair  of  the  National  Political  Congress  of  Black  Women.  Dr. 
Tucker  brought  this  issue  to  my  attention  many  months  ago  and 
suggested  that  this  was  an  issue  for  us  to  explore  and  examine. 
Quite  frankly,  we  had  a  discussion  at  that  time  because  as  the 
mother  of  a  teenage  son,  it  had  come  to  my  attention  in  other  con- 
texts before,  and  we  want  to  proceed  with  thanking  her  for  her 
leadership  in  this  area  and  for  the  initiatives  she  has  taken  with 
regard  to  saving  and  protecting  our  children. 

Dr.  Tucker? 



Ms.  Tucker.  Thank  you  very  much.  Chairman  Kohl,  Senator 
Cohen  and  my  good  sister.  Senator  Carol  Moseley-Braun.  I  want  to 
thank  you  for  holding  this  committee  hearing  today.  I  thank  you 
for  the  opportunity  to  testify  and  raise  my  concerns  for  the  welfare 
of  the  young  people  of  this  Nation. 

I  speak  as  the  Chair  of  the  National  Political  Congress  of  Black 
Women,  a  nonprofit,  nonpartisan  organization  for  the  political  and 
economic  empowerment  of  African  American  women  and  families. 
For  the  record,  I  wish  to  state  that  NPCBW  is  not  against  rap.  It 
is  not  against  hip-hop.  To  the  contrary,  we  support  and  encourage 
the  artistic  creativity  of  our  young  people.  We  love  our  young  peo- 
ple. However,  we  are  against  gangster  rap  and  misogynist  lyrics. 

As  African  American  women  who  head  over  70  percent  of  African 
American  households,  we  are  especially  aware  of  the  social  and  eco- 
nomic conditions  that  have  spawned  some  of  this  behavior.  Those 
of  us,  which  include  over  60  major  national  organizations,  who 
have  taken  up  the  mantle  of  this  crusade  to  save  our  children  have 
been  arduously  working  on  eliminating  the  root  causes  of  the  social 
ills  plaguing  our  communities.  That  is  why  this  organization  was 
convened  by  me  in  1984.  We  see  this  battle  against  the  negative 
effects  of  gangster  rap  as  an  important  element  in  our  struggle  to 
uplift  the  African  American  community  and  America  as  a  Nation, 

As  Coretta  Scott  King  said  in  her  State  of  the  Dream  Address, 
young  people  often  look  to  performing  artists  for  moral  guidance 


and  inspiration,  as  well  as  entertainment,  but  when  these  artists 
glorify  guns  and  beatings,  they  are  injecting  poison  into  the  veins 
of  America's  future. 

Enough  is  enough,  and  I  am  here  today  to  put  the  Nation  on  no- 
tice that  the  proliferation  of  violence  and  unacceptable  sexual  mes- 
sages in  our  youth's  music  is  due  in  part  to  the  avarice  of  the 
record  industry.  The  record  industry  is  simply  out  of  control.  Some 
$780  million  worth  of  rap  records  were  sold  in  1993,  with  more 
than  half  of  the  purchasers  being  under  the  age  of  17  and  50  per- 
cent of  these  minors  were  between  the  ages  of  10  and  14  years  old. 
Something  must  be  done.  It  is  our  moral  responsibility  to  halt  the 
sale  of  not  just  gangster  rap,  but  porno  rap. 

First,  I  want  to  address  the  issue  of  the  impact  of  gangster  rap 
lyrics  and  images  on  the  youth  of  America.  The  misogynist  lyrics 
that  glorify  violence  and  denigrate  women  are  nothing  more  than 
pornographic  smut.  This  smut  being  sold  to  our  children  coerces, 
influences,  encourages  and  motivates  our  youth  to  commit  violent 
behavior,  use  drugs  and  abuse  women  through  demeaning  sex  acts. 
Our  youth's  constant  exposure  to  these  menacing  images  lower 
their  sensibilities  toward  violent  behavior,  making  killing  and 
abuse  commonplace  and  acceptable. 

The  acceptance  of  violence  among  our  youth  is  leading  to  a  de- 
valuing of  human  life.  In  fact,  94  percent  of  the  black  youth  that 
are  killed  today  are  killed  by  other  black  youth.  It  is  an  unavoid- 
able conclusion  that  gangster  rap  is  negatively  influencing  our 
youth.  This  explains  why  so  many  of  our  children  are  out  of  control 
and  why  we  have  more  black  males  in  jail  than  we  have  in  college. 

As  an  illustration  of  this,  let  me  share  with  you  excerpts  from 
a  letter  that  I  received  from  a  prisoner  in  Lorton,  VA.  He  said: 

Rappers  make  it  sound  so  good  and  look  so  real  that  I  would  drink  and  smoke 
drugs  just  like  on  the  video,  thinking  that  that  was  the  only  way  I  could  be  some- 
body. My  hood  girls  became  hoes  and  bitches.  What  is  so  bad  about  it  is  they  accept- 
ed it.  You  know  why?  Because  they  put  themselves  in  the  video,  too,  and  the  guns, 
money,  cars,  drugs  and  men  became  a  reality.  Look  where  this  kind  of  thinking  got 
me,  facing  25  years  to  life  in  jail. 

Recently,  we  have  seen  two  incidents  which  vividly  demonstrate 
the  cause-and-effect  correlation  between  what  young  people  hear  in 
rap  and  how  they  act.  In  one  case,  a  16-year-old  from  New  Mexico, 
along  with  two  of  his  friends,  stabbed  to  death  the  boy's  80-year- 
old  grandparents  in  a  dispute  over  beer.  A  lieutenant  investigating 
the  case  said  that  the  teenagers  worked  themselves  up  by  listening 
to  a  tape  of  Snoop  Doggy  Dog  entitled  "Serial  Killer."  The  second 
incident  just  occurred  last  week  when  an  11-year-old  Dajrton,  OH, 
boy  accidentally  killed  his  3-year-old  sister  and  injured  another  5- 
year-old  sister  while  brandishing  a  gun  and  imitating  the  actions 
of  Snoop  Doggy  Dog. 

Parents  and  elected  officials  need  to  be  seriously  concerned  about 
gangster  rap  because  it  is  obscene  and  sexist,  it  is  driven  by  racism 
and  greed,  and  it  is  ultimately  destructive  of  community  mores  and 
values.  As  I  see  it,  the  first  three  things  to  note  about  gangster  rap 
is  it  is  obscene,  it  is  obscene,  it  is  obscene. 

Take  a  look  at  the  sample  of  lyrics  that  I  have  provided.  The  vul- 
garity is  overwhelming.  Even  many  adults  cannot  even  look  at 
them.  Take  a  look  at  the  graphic  art  work  that  is  sold  with  Snoop 


Doggy  Dog's  album,  "Doggy  Style,"  which  any  child  can  purchase 
in  a  record  store.  If  the  filth  that  is  depicted  in  these  cartoons  is 
not  obscene,  then  I  submit  that  nothing  is  obscene. 

Obscenity  has  long  been  an  exception  to  first  amendment  rights 
of  free  speech.  As  U.S.  District  Judge  Jose  Gonzalez  explained  in 
his  opinion  in  the  2  Live  Crew  case,  obscenity  is  not  a  protected 
form  of  speech  under  the  U.S.  Constitution. 

Racism  and  greed  are  the  sustaining  forces  behind  gangster  rap. 
It  is  no  coincidence  that  the  characters  displaying  the  most  inde- 
cent behavior  for  all  the  public  to  see  are  African  Americans.  Some 
argue  that  these  artists  are  merely  speaking  frankly  about  their  re- 
ality and  the  black  cultural  experience.  But  as  Dr.  Benjamin 
Hooks,  former  Executive  Director  of  the  NAACP  noted,  our  cultural 
experience  does  not  include  debasing  our  women,  glorification  of  vi- 
olence and  the  promotion  of  deviant  sexual  behavior. 

An  example  of  how  racism  is  undergirding  gangster  rap  can  be 
seen  in  the  experiences  quoted  by  you.  Madam  Chair,  on  Lichelle 
Lorrs,  who  has  been  turned  into  a  gangster,  who  has  been  turned 
into  a  young  woman  holding  two  guns  on  her  album,  and  the  song 
is  "Bom  Gangster."  Placing  profit  ahead  of  social  obligation,  record 
companies  routinely  market  this  kind  of  music,  and  many  cannot 
get  a  contract  unless  they  descend  to  that  level  of  pornography. 

Last,  by  promoting  and  constantly  depicting  the  type  of  behavior 
synonymous  with  gangster  rap,  society  is  validating  antisocial  be- 
havior. As  printed  in  Billboard  Magazine  which,  as  we  know,  is  the 
bible  of  the  industry,  it  was  quoted  in  a  full-page  editorial  that  this 
music  leads  to  the  death  of  conscience,  the  corruption  of  the  spirit, 
and  ultimately  the  destruction  of  the  individual  and  the  commu- 
nity. No  one  form  of  popular  music  is  enough  to  justify  racism,  sex- 
ual bigotry  and  the  endorsement  of  sociopathic  violence. 

The  full  authority  of  government  should  be  used  to  restrict  access 
of  music  and  videos  to  minors.  In  particularly  egregious  instances. 
Congress  should  put  forth  measures  to  remove  the  ofiending  prod- 
uct from  the  marketplace.  The  people  in  the  music  industry  that 
are  proponents  of  this  vile,  obscene,  racist  and  antisocial  music 
must  be  denounced  for  the  pandering  opportunists  that  they  are 
and  not  be  allowed  to  continue  in  the  trafficking  of  this  cultural 
garbage  to  children. 

I  am  saying  that  principle  must  come  before  profit.  Congress  has 
an  obligation  to  the  children  and  families  of  this  Nation  to  confront 
the  music  industry  elite  about  this  deplorable  product  that  they 
routinely  inflict  upon  society.  While  Congress  is  debating  a  $22  bil- 
lion crime  bill,  you  should  not  only  be  concerned  with  advancing 
short-tern  initiatives  to  the  crime  epidemic  sweeping  the  Nation, 
but  you  must  think  in  terms  of  long-term  and  preventive  measures. 

As  we  have  seen  in  the  last  30  years,  increasing  law  enforcement 
and  correctional  facilities  have  not  reduced  crime.  These  short-term 
fixes  will  do  nothing  to  improve  the  lives  of  children  like  the  19 
that  were  recently  removed  from  a  home  in  Chicago  because  of  pa- 
rental neglect  and  abuse.  They  are  prime  examples  of  the  children 
that  gangster  rap  will  influence.  Because  of  the  lack  of  positive  in- 
fluences, their  minds  will  be  fertile  and  receptive  ground  for  inter- 
nalizing the  violence  glorified  in  gangster  rap.  Children  such  as 
these,  our  most  neglected  population,  will  become  a  social  time 


bomb  in  our  midst.  Being  coaxed  by  gangster  rap,  they  will  trigger 
a  crime  wave  of  epidemic  proportions  that  we  have  never  seen  the 
likes  of.  Regardless  of  the  number  of  jails  built,  it  will  not  be 
enough.  Neither  will  there  be  enough  police  or  government  pro- 
grams to  contain  the  explosion  of  crime.  We  as  a  Nation  must  act 
now,  and  we  must  act  decisively. 

Finally,  the  solutions  that  I  am  suggesting  today  require  that  we 
think  in  terms  of  curtailing  crime  at  its  earliest  stages  by  investing 
in  our  youth.  As  a  weapon  to  combat  today's  violence,  Congress 
needs  to  establish  public-private  partnerships  which  create  live-in 
schools  patterned  after  the  Milton  Hershey  schools  in  Hershey,  PA, 
the  Stephen  Girard  College  in  Philadelphia  and  Father  Flanagan's 
Boys  Town  in  the  Midwest.  These  facilities  provide  a  wholesome 
and  educational  environment  free  of  violence  and  are  cheaper  than 

In  addition,  since  the  Government  is  in  the  process  of  downsizing 
the  military.  Congress  now  should  examine  the  idea  of  converting 
military  bases  into  training  academies  for  first-  and  second-time 
youth  offenders.  These  bases  could  be  put  to  good  use  by  giving 
youth  the  skills  they  need  to  be  productive  citizens  rather  than 
jailing  and  condemning  them  to  a  life  of  crime. 

In  closing,  I  wish  to  remind  the  Senate  that  banning  the  sale  of 
gangster  rap  to  our  children  is  one  preventive  action  Congress  can 
take  to  curb  violence,  but  it  is  one  that  is  imperative  to  begin  the 
process  of  healing  our  Nation.  No  one,  and  I  say  no  one  and  no  in- 
dustry, should  be  allowed  to  continue  the  social  and  psychological 
poisoning  of  the  young  minds  of  this  Nation  that  is  occurring  with 
gangster  rap.  So  I  say  to  you  again  that  the  record  industry  is  out 
of  control  and  if  they  don't  clean  up  their  own  act,  they  must  be 

May  I  finally  say  this  word?  Coming  here  to  this  hearing  today, 
I  prayed  first  and  I  got  on  the  elevator  and  I  heard  these  words: 
"I  believe  the  children  are  the  future,"  Whitney  Houston  said. 
"Teach  them  well  and  let  them  lead  the  way.  Show  them  all  the 
beauty  they  possess  inside.  Give  them  a  sense  of  pride."  Our  chil- 
dren need  heroes.  They  need  someone  to  look  up  to. 

Thank  you  for  these  hearings,  and  may  you  do  what  you  have 
been  elected  to  do.  [Applause.] 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Thank  you.  Dr.  Tucker,  if  you  will  re- 
main at  the  witness  table  because  I  think  it  would  be  helpful  if  we 
can  go  through  and  then  ask  questions.  Thank  you  again  for  your 
eloquent  testimony. 

Dr.  Phillips? 


Dr.  Phillips.  Senator  Kohl,  Senator  Cohen,  Senator  Moseley- 
Braun,  I  am  Robert  T.M.  Phillips,  M.D.,  Ph.D.,  Deputy  Medical  Di- 
rector of  the  American  Psychiatric  Association,  which  is  the  Na- 
tion's oldest  medical  specialty  organization  comprised  of  over 
38,000  physicians  dedicated  to  caring  for  those  who  suffer  from 
mental  illness  and  advocating  for  the  mental  health  and  welfare  of 
adults  and  children.  It  is  my  privilege  to  testify  before  you  this 
morning  on  what  I  consider  to  be  one  of  the  most  important  prob- 


lems  facing  not  only  the  Senate,  but  the  profession  of  medicine  as 
a  whole. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun,  you  were  quite  correct  a  few  moments 
ago  when  you  suggested  that  violence  was  an  epidemic  in  this 
country.  In  fact,  it  is  pandemic  in  this  country  and  is  our  greatest 
public  health  crisis.  The  effect  of  violence  is  measured  not  only  in 
human  carnage,  but  also  in  the  devastation  of  our  communities 
and,  in  particular,  in  the  communities  in  which  African  Americans 

Violence  is  everywhere  in  this  country.  It  is  not  just  an  inner-city 
problem.  It  is  not  unique  to  racial  or  ethnic  minorities,  despite  the 
consistent  efforts  to  make  that  association.  As  a  scientist,  I  can  tell 
you  that  there  has  been  no  such  scientific  evidence  to  establish 
such  causal  linkages. 

Violence  is  manifested  not  only  by  the  acts  of  murder,  but  overtly 
and  covertly  by  acts  committed  against  others,  as  well  as  against 
self,  by  such  acts  as  rape,  physical  and  sexual  assault,  arson,  child 
abuse,  spousal  abuse,  elder  abuse,  and  even  suicide.  This  is  the  pic- 
ture of  violence  in  American  society  and  we  need  to  understand  it 
at  the  greatest  aperture  of  exposure. 

The  administration's  efforts  to  bolster  law  enforcement's  response 
to  violence  is  both  laudable  and  necessary,  but  absence  of  informed 
public  policy  that  addresses  the  root  causes  of  violence  will  only 
destine  such  legislation  to  failure. 

Violence,  as  a  physician,  I  can  tell  you,  is  not  a  diagnosis,  nor 
is  it  a  disease.  It  is,  however,  a  behavioral  manifestation  of  a 
human  condition  that  is  as  old  as  time  itself.  Plato  once  said  that 
poverty  was  the  mother  of  crime.  Aristotle  taught  us  that  the  chief 
universal  cause  of  the  revolutionary  impulse  is  the  desire  for  equal- 
ity, and  Representative  Waters  can  attest  to  her  experiences  in  Los 
Angeles  which  underscored  the  points  made  by  Aristotle  centuries 
ago.  Socrates  mused,  the  existence  of  such  persons  are  to  be  attrib- 
uted to  the  want  of  education,  ill  training  and  the  evil  constitution 
of  the  state. 

I  am  here  to  tell  you  that  while  poverty,  lack  of  opportunity  and 
discrimination  are  intimately  associated  with  violence,  it  would  be 
reductionistic  to  view  such  socio-economic  conditions  as  the  sole 
cause.  We  are  a  society  that  is  absolutely  infatuated  with  violence 
in  a  clinically  obsessive  way.  We  romanticize  violence  in  film,  we 
glorify  violence  in  sport  and  we  pay  homage  to  the  sports  hero  with 
multi-million-dollar,  multi-year  contracts.  We  attach  to  such  sports 
extraordinary  financial  rewards  and  all  of  the  spoils  of  our  society. 

We  feed  our  addiction  to  violence  every  day  in  television  news 
trailers  for  the  5,  6,  10  and  11  p.m.  broadcasts.  We  sensationalize 
violence  with  special  reports  and  special  editions  in  both  the  elec- 
tronic and  the  print  media.  From  Los  Angeles  to  Lillehammer, 
make  no  mistake  about  it,  violence  has  emerged  as  the  strongest 
currency  in  this  country  in  a  marketplace  that  just  can't  get 

Children,  Dr.  Tucker,  as  you  have  wisely  instructed  us,  have  be- 
come not  only  the  victims  of  violence,  but  they  are  the  fastest  grow- 
ing segment  of  perpetrators  of  violence  in  this  society.  Juveniles  ac- 
count for  over  17  percent  of  all  violent  crimes.  The  juvenile  arrest 
rates  for  murder  have  gone  in  excess  of  85  percent  since  1987  to 


date.  Three  out  of  ten  juvenile  murder  arrests  in  this  country  in- 
volve victims  under  the  age  of  18. 

There  is  absolutely  no  hope  of  getting  violence  off  of  our  streets 
until  we  become  serious  about  getting  guns  out  of  the  hands  of  our 
young  children.  Between  1987  and  1991,  the  juvenile  arrest  rates 
for  weapons  increased  by  62  percent  and,  as  the  Senator  quoted 
earlier,  1  out  of  every  5  weapons  arrests  was  a  juvenile  weapons 

Most  disturbing  to  me  as  an  African  American  psychiatrist  is  the 
fact  that  black  youth  were  arrested  for  weapons  law  violations  at 
a  rate  triple  that  of  other  youths.  Black  youths  are  the  victims  of 
homicide  at  a  rate  six  times  higher  than  that  of  whites  in  this 

Among  our  young,  particularly  our  minority  young,  anger,  frus- 
tration, hopelessness  and  rage  are  what  fuel  the  fires  that  inevi- 
tably manifest  themselves  in  violence.  You  asked  me  to  give  you 
some  examples  and  explanations  as  a  clinician.  Those  are  the  ex- 
amples and  explanations.  The  compounding  problems  of  substance 
abuse,  teenage  pregnancy,  illiteracy,  truancy  and  dropping  out 
have  provided  fertile  soils  for  the  seeds  of  discontent  that  have 
been  sown  for  generations  in  this  country.  The  deterioration  of  our 
family  units  and  the  absence  of  strong  and  consistent  male  and  fe- 
male role  models  only  help  to  begin  our  understanding  of  this  prob- 

Much  attention  has  been  paid  by  the  Senate  focused  on  the  ef- 
fects of  violent  television  programming  on  children  and  adolescents, 
and  I  and  the  American  Psychiatric  Association  have  joined  with 
Senator  Conrad  and  the  Citizens  Task  Force  on  Television  Violence 
and  are  already  on  record  on  this  issue.  But  I  want  to  spend  just 
a  few  moments  before  I  close  focusing  your  attention  on  the  record- 
ing industry  and  the  impact  of  sexually  explicit  lyrics  on  the  phys- 
ical and  emotional  well-being  of  our  young  and  the  kinds  of  effects 
that  this  graphic  literature — and  I  use  that  term  guardedly — has 
on  the  emotional  and  physical  well-being  of  our  children. 

If  television  and  pictures  are  the  window  through  which  we  see 
the  reflection  of  art  imitating  life,  then  I  submit  to  you  that  music 
is  clearly  the  homing  device  for  language  by  which  we  track  the 
culture  and  the  mores  of  our  society.  Numerous  studies  have  clear- 
ly established  the  relationship  between  the  actual  exposure  to  vio- 
lence and  its  negative  consequences  on  childhood  development,  and 
a  substantial  body  of  research  has  demonstrated  the  association  of 
violent  or  aggressive  behaviors  with  repeated  exposure  to  television 

I  have  provided  for  you  in  my  written  testimony  a  series  of  re- 
search pieces  which  clearly  establish  the  same  causal  linkages  with 
music.  What  I  want  you  to  pay  attention  to  is  the  fact  that  rock 
music  has  always  been  viewed  as  a  counter-culture  by  many 
adults.  Nonetheless,  it  has  firmly  established  itself  as  a  powerful 
art  form,  particularly  among  the  young. 

As  each  generation  matures,  what  was  considered  the  norm  be- 
comes passe  when  new  contemporary  themes  emerge.  So  now  we 
are  talking  about  gangster  rap,  whose  lyrics  contain  some  of  the 
most  violent  and  derogatory  verbal  assaults  on  women  that  I  have 
seen  in  my  lifetime.  But  we  have  forgotten,  lady  and  gentlemen, 


that  this  is  a  theme  that  has  been  long  present  in  the  recording 
industry  and  that  rap  music  is  only  its  latest  iterative  form. 

Contemporary  rock,  in  particular  certain  segments  of  heavy 
metal  and  hard-core  punk,  has  consistently  demonstrated  substan- 
tial deviations  from  the  norm.  This  music  can  be  described  as 
alienated,  negativistic,  nihilistic  and,  frankly,  pornographic.  The 
themes  of  homicide,  suicide  and  satanic  practices  which  promote 
sex,  sadomasochism,  rape  and  murder  are  prominent  in  other 
music  forms  other  than  rap.  It  would  be  a  mistake  to  pin  this,  as 
we  always  do,  on  the  victims,  which  all  too  often  are  the  inhab- 
itants of  the  minority  communities  in  this  country. 

I  want  to  share  with  you  just  a  few  lyrics  to  illustrate  the  point. 
"No  apparent  motive,  just  kill  and  kill  again.  Survive  my  brutal 
slashing.  I'll  hunt  you  'til  the  end.  In  goes  my  knife,  pull  out  his 
life,  consider  the  bastard  dead."  That  is  not  rap  music. 

"Ripping  flesh,  drawing  blood,  I  live  to  eat  your  bones."  That  is  not  rap  music. 
"Holy  hell,  death  to  us.  Satan  fell  on  holy  lust.  Devil's  water  starts  to  flood.  God 
is  slaughtered,  drink  his  blood.  Satan's  right  hand." 

That  is  not  rap  music,  but  the  lyrics  of  gangster  rap  and  misog- 
yny in  rap  clearly  evolved  from  the  same  shameful  and  repugnant 

So  if  vou  show  in  the  front  row,  I  call  you  a  bitch  or  a  dirty  assho.  You  probably 
get  mad  Uke  the  bitch  is  supposed  to.  So  what  about  the  bitch  who  got  shot?  F  - 
-  -    her.  You  think  I  give  a  damn  about  that  bitch? 

That  is  rap  music.  "Her  body  is  so  beautiful,  so  I'm  thinking 
rape.  Shouldn't  have  had  her  curtains  open,  so  that's  her  fate.  Slit 
her  throat  and  watched  her  shake."  That  is  rap  music. 

The  effect  of  such  music  and  music  videos  is  best  understood  in 
the  context  of  childhood  development  and,  as  a  psychiatrist,  that  is 
what  I  want  to  focus  your  attention  on.  Children  are  born  with  the 
innate  capacity  and  desire  to  imitate  our  behavior  as  adults. 
Whether  the  behavior  is  triggered  by  a  video  image,  by  an  audio 
image,  or  by  the  incredibly  powerful  combination  of  audio  and  vis- 
ual imagery,  violence  is  powerful,  tantalizing,  charismatic  and  in- 

We  have  got  to  be  clear  that  the  effects  of  repeated  exposure  to 
violence  by  any  stimulating  form  serves  to  desensitize,  and  the  best 
illustrative  example  I  can  give  you  of  desensitization  is  to  think 
back  in  your  memory  to  your  viewing  the  videotaped  beating  of 
Rodney  King.  The  first  time,  you  may  have  been  appalled  by  it,  if 
you  could  have  gotten  through  it.  The  second  time,  you  perhaps 
watched  with  greater  intent,  but  I  assure  you,  by  the  12th,  14th 
or  100th  time  you  saw  it  on  the  television  set,  you  reached  for  the 
remote  control  to  find  out  what  else  was  on.  That  is  desensitiza- 
tion. What  we  hear  and  what  you  heard  in  those  lyrics  are  desen- 

We  have  got  to  educate  parents  to  the  risks  of  exposure  to  such 
music  and  the  desensitization  that  occurs  from  such  exposure  in 
the  same  way  we  have  educated  parents  to  the  exposure  and  the 
risks  of  exposure  to  infectious  disease.  As  a  physician,  I  feel  very 
strongly  about  this.  As  a  psychiatrist,  I  am  convinced  that  we  must 
take  this  kind  of  music  seriously,  seriously  to  the  extent  of  the  ef- 
fect that  it  has  on  our  children. 


Freedom  of  speech  does  not  relieve,  artists,  recording  executives 
or  broadcasters  of  their  responsibiUty  to  serve  the  public  interest. 
More  importantly,  one's  constitutionally  guaranteed  first  amend- 
ment right  to  free  speech  does  not  give  license  to  do  harm  to  oth- 

The  American  Psychiatric  Association  believes  that  violent  and 
demeaning  musical  lyrics  have  a  deleterious  effect  on  our  youth 
and  place  at  grave  risk  the  mental  health  and  welfare  of  them- 
selves and  our  communities.  As  a  psychiatrist  and  as  a  representa- 
tive of  that  Association  and  its  38,000  physician  members,  I  ap- 
plaud your  efforts  and  we  pledge  our  continued  support  in  battling 
what  we  consider  to  be  the  number  one  public  health  crisis  in  this 

Thank  you  very  much.  [Applause.] 

[The  prepared  statement  of  Dr.  Phillips  follows:] 

Prepared  Statement  of  Robert  T.M.  Phillips,  M.D.,  PH.D.,  on  Behalf  of  the 

American  Psychiatric  Association 

Mr.  Chairman  and  members  of  the  Subcommittee  on  Juvenile  Justice  of  the  Sen- 
ate Judiciary  Committee,  I  am  Robert  T.M.  Phillips,  M.D.,  Ph.D.,  Deputy  Medical 
Director  of  the  American  Psychiatric  Association,  the  nation's  oldest  medical  spe- 
cialty organization  which  represents  over  38,000  physicians  dedicated  to  caring  for 
those  who  suffer  from  mental  illness  and  advocating  for  the  mental  health  and  wel- 
fare of  adults  and  children.  It  is  an  honor  for  me  to  be  invited  to  discuss  our  con- 
cerns regarding  the  effects  of  violent  and  demeaning  musical  lyrics  on  our  nation's 

Violence  is  pandemic  in  the  United  States  and  has  emerged  as  our  premier  public 
health  crisis.  The  effects  of  violence  are  measured,  not  only  in  its  human  carnage 
but  also,  in  its  devastation  to  our  communities  and  destruction  of  the  lives  of  our 

Violence  is  everywhere  in  America.  It  is  not  just  an  "inner  city"  problem.  It  is  not 
unique  to  racial  or  ethnic  minorities — despite  efforts  to  the  contrary,  no  such  causal 
linkages  have  been  established.  Violence  is  manifested  not  only  by  the  act  of  mur- 
der, but  overtly  and  covertly  by  acts  committed  against  others,  as  well  as  against 
self,  such  as  physical  and  sexual  assault,  rape,  arson,  child  abuse,  spousal  abuse, 
elder  abuse,  and  suicide.  The  administration's  efforts  to  bolster  law  enforcement's 
response  to  violence  is  both  laudable  and  essential,  but  in  the  absence  of  informed 
public  policy  that  addresses  the  root  causes  of  violence,  it  is  destined  to  fail. 

Violence  is  not  a  diagnosis,  nor  is  it  a  disease.  It  is,  however,  a  behavioral  mani- 
festation of  a  human  condition  as  old  as  time  itself  Plato  once  said  "Poverty  is  the 
mother  of  crime."  Aristotle  taught  us  that  "the  chief  universal  cause  of  the  revolu- 
tionary impulse  is  the  desire  for  equality."  Socrates  mused,  "the  existence  of  such 
persons  is  to  be  attributed  to  the  want  of  education,  ill  training  and  evil  constitution 
of  the  state."  While  poverty,  lack  of  opportunity,  and  discrimination  are  intimately 
associated  with  violence,  it  would  be  reductionistic  to  view  such  socio-economic  con- 
ditions as  the  sole  cause. 

We  are  a  society  that  is  infatuated  with  violence  in  a  clinically  obsessive  way.  We 
romanticize  violence  in  film.  We  glorify  violent  sports  and  pay  homage  to  its  glad- 
iators with  adoration  and  attach  to  such  sport  the  financial  rewards  and  spoils  of 
our  society.  We  feed  our  addiction  to  violence  in  television  news  trailers  for  the  five, 
six,  ten,  and  eleven  p.m.  broadcasts.  We  sensationalize  violence  with  special  reports 
and  special  editions  in  both  the  electronic  and  print  media.  From  Los  Angeles  to 
Lillehammer,  violence  has  emerged  as  the  strongest  currency  in  a  marketplace  that 
just  can't  get  enough. 

Children  have  increasingly  become  not  only  the  victims  of  violence,  but  also  its 
fastest  growing  segment  of  perpetrators.  Juveniles  accounted  for  17  percent  of  all 
violent  crimes  in  calendar  year  1991.  The  juvenile  arrest  rates  for  murder  increased 
by  85  percent  between  the  years  1987-1981.  Three  out  of  every  ten  juvenile  murder 
arrests  in  this  country  involve  a  victim  under  the  age  of  18.  There  is  no  hope  of 
getting  violence  off  our  streets  until  we  figure  out  how  to  get  the  guns  out  of  the 
hands  of  our  young  children.  Between  1987  and  1991  the  juvenile  arrest  rates  for 
weapons  violations  increased  by  62  percent.  In  1991  one  out  of  every  five  weapons 
arrest  was  a  juvenile  arrest.  Most  disturbing  to  me  as  an  African-American  psychia- 


trist  is  the  fact  that  black  youth  were  arrested  for  weapons  law  violations  at  a  rate 
triple  that  of  white  youth  in  1991.  Black  youth  were  the  victims  of  homicide  at  a 
rate  six  times  higher  than  whites. 

Among  our  young  today,  in  particular  our  minority  young,  anger,  frustration, 
hopelessness,  and  rage  fuel  the  fires  that  inevitably  are  manifested  in  violence.  The 
compounding  problems  of  substance  abuse,  teenage  pregnancy,  illiteracy,  truancy 
and  dropping  out  have  provided  fertile  soil  for  the  seeds  of  discontent  that  have 
been  sown  for  generations  in  this  country.  The  deterioration  of  the  family  unit  and 
the  absence  of  strong  and  consistent  male  and  female  role  models  only  begin  to  help 
us  understand  the  origins  of  this  dilemma. 

Much  attention  has  been  focused  on  the  effects  of  violent  television  programming 
on  children  and  adolescents.  The  American  Psychiatric  Association  has  joined  with 
Senator  Kent  Conrad  and  the  Citizens  Task  Force  on  TV  Violence  and  is  already 
on  record  regarding  this  issue.  Now  our  attention  appropriately  turns  to  the  record- 
ing industry  and  the  impact  of  sexually  explicit  lyrics  on  the  physical  and  emotional 
well-being  of  our  young.  If  television  and  movies  are  the  window  through  which  we 
see  the  reflections  of  art  imitating  Ufe,  then  music  is  clearly  the  homing  device  of 
language  by  which  we  track  the  cultures  and  mores  of  our  society. 

Numerous  studies  have  clearly  established  the  relationship  between  actual  expo- 
sure to  violence  and  its  negative  consequences  on  normal  childhood  development.  A 
substantial  body  of  research  has  also  demonstrated  the  association  of  violent  or  ag- 
gressive behaviors  with  repeated  exposure  to  televised  violence.  Simply  put,  the 
more  violent  programming  children  view,  the  greater  is  the  risk  that  they  will  be- 
have violently  or  aggressively. 

The  same  paradigm  holds  true  for  music  and  its  potential  effect  on  listeners.  Rock 
music  has  always  been  viewed  as  a  "counterculture"  by  many  adults.  Nonetheless, 
it  has  firmly  established  itself  as  a  powerful  art  form,  particularly  among  the  young. 
As  each  generation  matures,  what  was  considered  the  "norm"  becomes  passe  as  new 
contemporary  themes  emerge.  Recently,  there  has  been  an  appropriate  decrying  of 
a  form  of  rap  music  referred  to  as  "gansta  rap"  whose  lyrics  contain  some  of  the 
most  violent  and  derogatory  verbal  assaults  on  women.  We  seem,  however,  to  have 
forgotten  that  this  is  only  the  latest  iteration  of  a  theme  which  long  predated  rap 
music.  Other  forms  of  contemporary  rock  music,  in  particular  certain  segments  of 
heavy  metal  and  hard  core  punk,  have  persistently  demonstrated  substantial  devi- 
ation, even  from  the  "norm,"  of  current  contemporary  themes.  This  type  of  music 
has  been  described  by  critics  and  researchers  alike  as  "alienated,  negativistic,  nihi- 
Hstic,  and  pornographic"  at  its  best.  A  review  of  the  lyrics  of  this  kind  of  contem- 
porary rock  music  reveals  themes  of  homicide,  suicide  and  satanic  practices,  which 
promote  sex,  sadomasochism,  rape,  and  murder.  There  have  also  been  clear  exam- 
ples in  \yhich  lyrics  have  promoted  the  act  of  suicide.  Haennelerswass,  et  al.  and 
their  review  of  adolescent  interests  in  views  of  destructive  themes  in  rock  music  pro- 
vide us  with  some  sample  lyrics  released  since  1980  by  heavy  metal  bands: 

*  *  *  No  apparent  motive/Just  kill  and  kill  again/Survive  my  brutal  slash- 
ing/I'll hunt  you  till  the  end  *  *  ♦.! 

*  *  *  In  goes  my  knife/Pull  out  his  Ufe/Consider  that  bastard  dead  *  *  *.2 

*  *  *  Ripping  flesh,  drawing  blood/I  live  to  eat  your  bones  *  *  *.3 

*  *  *  I  am  possessed  by  all  that  is  evil/The  death  of  your  Gk)d  I  demand/ 
I  spit  at  the  virgin  you  worship/And  sit  at  Lord  Satan's  right  hand  *  *  *.4 

*  *  *  Holy  hell,  death  to  us/Satan  fell,  unholy  lust/Devil's  water  starts  to 
flood/God  is  slaughtered,  drink  his  blood  *  ♦  *  Satan's  right  hand  *  ♦  *.5 

The  lyrics  of  "gansta  rap"  and  misogyny  in  rap  clearly  then  evolve  from  the  same 
shameful  and  repugnant  tradition. 

So  if  you  at  a  show  in  the  front  row 

I'm  a  call  you  a  bitch  or  a  dirty-ass  ho 

You  probably  get  mad  Uke  bitch  is  supposed  to  *  *  * 

■^  *  "^  So  what  about  the  bitch  who  got  shot? 

F---    her 

You  think  I  give  a  damn  about  a  bitch  *  *  *  e 

1  By  Slayer,  in  album  "Hell  Awaits,"  Metal  Blade  Records,  1986. 

2  By  Motley  Crue,  in  album  "Shout  At  The  Devil,"  Electra/Asylum,  1983. 

3  By  Metal  Church,  in  album  "The  Dark,"  Electra/Asylum,  1986. 

■*By  Venom,  in  album  "Welcome  To  Hell,"  Power  Metal/Neat  Music,  1985. 

5  By  Seven  Churches,  in  album  "Possessed,"  Combat  Records,  1985. 

6  Straight  Outta  Compton,?  N. W.A. 


Bitch  ♦  ♦  *  I  just  want  f you  and  cut 

Treat  ya  like  a  trammpy  slut.'^ 

Her  body's  beautiful  so  I'm  thinking"  rape 

Shouldn't  have  had  her  curtains  open  so  that's  her  fate  *  *  * 

Slit  her  throat  and  watched  her  shake  s 

Cause  we're  like  the  outlaws  striding'  while  suckers  are  hiding'  ♦  *  * 

Jump  behind  the  bush  when  you  see  me  drivin'  by! 

Hanging  out  the  window  with  my  magnum  taking  out  some  putas.  Act  kind 

of  local,  I'm  just  another  local  kid  from  the  street  getting  paid  for  my 

vocals. 9 

The  effect  of  such  music  and  music  videos  is  best  understood  in  in  the  context 
of  childhood  development.  Children  are  born  with  the  innate  capacity  and  desire  to 
imitate  adult  human  behavior.  Whether  the  behavior  imitated  is  triggered  by  a  vis- 
ual image,  an  audio  image,  or  by  combined  audio-visual  imagery,  the  cognitive  im- 
pact is  overwhelming.  Violence  is  powerful,  tantalizing,  charismatic,  and  intoxicat- 

Research  on  the  impact  of  music  and  music  videos  on  normal  child  development 
has  been  consistent  with  similar  research  that  has  examined  the  impact  of  repeated 
exposure  to  televised  violence. 

Approximately  700  middle  and  high  school  students  from  central  Florida  com- 
pleted a  survey  about  rock  music  preferences.  Nearly  one-fifth  of  the  students 
named  as  favorites  those  performers  whose  music  describes  homicide,  suicide,  and 
satanism.  The  majority  of  these  fans  were  male.  Among  those  studied,  fans  of  heavy 
metal  and  punk  rock  were  more  likely  than  fans  of  other  rock  music  to  report  know- 
ing the  lyrics  to  favorite  songs,  lo 

A  content  analysis  of  music  videos  was  conducted  by  the  Journal  of  Broadcasting 
&  Electronic  Media.  The  study  found  that  violence  and  crime  were  depicted  in  more 
than  half  of  a  random  sample  of  62  music  videos  shown  on  MTV.  Violent  videos  fea- 
tured destruction  of  property,  physical  aggression  against  self  and  others,  and  use 
of  weapons  such  as  chains,  guns,  knives  and  axes." 

The  effects  of  sexually  violent  rock  music  on  men's  acceptance  of  violence  against 
women  was  reported  in  Psychology  of  Women  Quarterly.  Seventy-five  male  college 
students  participated  in  an  experiment  to  compare  the  effects  of  exposure  to  sexu- 
ally violent  heavy  metal  rock,  Christian  heavy  metal  rock,  and  easy-listening  music 
on  attitudes  about  women.  The  study  found  that  men  who  listened  to  only  seventeen 
minutes  of  heavy  metal  music  (regardless  of  sexually  violent  or  Christian  themes) 
expressed  greater  endorsement  of  sexual  stereotypes,  negative  attitudes  and  preju- 
diciail  beliefs  about  women  than  did  men  who  heard  easy-listening  music.  12 

In  another  study  designed  to  examine  the  influence  of  erotic  and  violent  content 
on  men's  attitudes  about  violence  against  women,  144  male  college  students 
watched  music  videos  featuring  either  erotic  violent,  erotic  non-violent,  non-erotic 
violent,  or  no-erotic,  non  violent  content.  Those  who  watched  the  non-erotic  violent 
videos  expressed  the  most  callous  and  antagonistic  attitudes  toward  women.  i3 

Approximately  400  college  students  watched  music  videos  containing  either  a  low, 
moderate,  or  high  level  of  visual  violence  in  a  1990  study  published  in  Communica- 
tion Research.  For  both  males  and  females,  increasing  the  level  of  video  violence  de- 
creased the  appeal  of  the  music  and  the  visual  content.  The  more  violent  videos 
made  viewers  feel  less  happy,  more  angry,  more  fearful,  more  anxious,  less  sexual 
and  more  aggressive  than  did  less  violent  videos.  i4 

Sherman  and  Dominick  reviewed  166  videos  sampled  from  MTV,  WTBS's  "Night 
Tracks,"  and  NBC's  "Fridav  Night  Videos."  They  found  that  violence  was  reported 
in  57  percent  of  the  sample.  Aggression  more  often  involved  wrestling,  punching, 
and  grabbing  than  use  of  weapons.  Men  were  three  times  more  likely  than  women 
to  be  victims  of  violence.  Non-white  characters  more  often  than  white  characters 
used  weapons  and  had  weapons  used  against  them.i^ 

7  Hoes,  Too  Short. 

8  Mind  of  a  Lunatic  The  Ghetto  Boys. 

9  How  I  Could  Just  Kill  A  Man  Cypress  Hill. 

^0 Omega,  19(3),  177-186.  Wass,  H.,  Raup,  J..  Cerullo,  K.,  Martel,  L.,  Mingione,  L.,  Sperring, 
A.  (1989). 

^i  Journal  of  Broadcasting  &  Electronic  Media,  29(3),  333-340.  Baxyter,  R.,  DeRiemer,  C, 
Landine,  A.,  Leslie,  L.,  &  Singletary,  M/.  (195). 

^^Psychology  of  Women  Quarterly,  15,  49-63.  St.  Lawrence,  J.,  &  Joyner,  D.  (1991). 

13 Psychological  Reports,  64,  319-322.  Peterson,  D.,  &  Pfost,  K.  (1989). 

I'i Communication  Research,  17(2),  212-234.  Hansen,  C,  &  Hansen,  R.  (1990). 

i^Journal  of  Communications,  36,  79-93.  Sherman,  B.,  &  Dominick,  J.  (1986). 


Finally  a  random  sample  of  139  music  videos  from  MTV  showed  an  average  of 
tend  acts  of  violence  per  hoiir,  almost  twice  the  amount  of  violence  found  in  prime- 
time  programming.  An  act  of  violence  was  defined  as  "force  or  the  compelling  threat 
of  force  that  may  result  in  harm  to  life  or  to  valued  objects."  le 

These  data  are  clear  convincing  and  overwhelming.  The  repeated  exposure  to  vio- 
lent imagery  desensitizes  us  to  violence  and  greatly  increases  the  risk  that  we  will 
manifest  violence  in  our  own  behavior.  We  must  educate  parents  to  the  risks  of  ex- 
posure to  such  music  in  the  same  way  we  have  educated  them  to  the  risks  of  expo- 
sure to  infectious  diseases. 

Freedom  of  speech  does  not  relieve  artists,  recording  executives,  or  broadcasters 
of  their  responsibility  to  serve  the  public  interest.  More  importantly,  one's  constitu- 
tionally guaranteed  First  Amendment  right  to  free  speech  does  not  give  license  to 
do  harm  to  others. 

The  American  Psychiatric  Association  believes  that  violent  and  demeaning  musi- 
cal lyrics  have  a  deleterious  effect  on  our  youth  and  place  at  grave  risk  the  mental 
health  and  welfare  of  themselves  and  our  communities. 

Thank  you  for  the  opportunity  to  testify  before  your  Subcommittee.  I  would  be 
happy  to  respond  to  any  questions. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Thank  you  very  much. 

Again,  this  little  box  doesn't  seem  to  be  speaking  for  itself,  but 
I  would  ask  again  to  try  to  shorten  it  because  we  have  two  other 
panels  and  I  would  very  much  like  to  make  certain  that  we  get  ev- 
eryone's testimony  in  as  early  in  this  day  as  we  can. 

Professor  Dyson,  thank  you  very  much  for  coming  and  I  would 
like  to  invite  your  testimony  at  this  point. 


Mr.  Dyson.  Thank  you,  Senator  Moseley-Braun.  To  Senators 
Cohen  and  Kohl  and  Moseley-Braun,  I  am  deeply  gratified  and 
honored  by  the  invitation  to  testify  before  this  subcommittee  today. 
I  grew  up  in  the  inner  city  of  Detroit,  MI,  one  of  an  immediate  fam- 
ily of  five  boys,  but  a  larger  extended  family  of  four  older  brothers 
and  sisters,  one  of  nine  children,  under  excruciatingly  cruel  condi- 
tions in  many  ways,  and  was  benefitted  by  a  support  network  that 
included  the  black  church  most  prominently  that  allowed  me  then 
to  go  on  to  get  a  Ph.D.  from  Princeton  in  religion.  I  am  also  an  or- 
dained Baptist  minister,  and  now  a  professor  at  Brown  University. 
So  I  come  to  this  both  from  having  a  deeply  invested  existential 
connection  and  rooting  in  the  culture  that  is  often  examined  but 
most  often  demonized,  as  well  as  a  kind  of  scholarly  investigation 
of  the  issues  at  hand. 

I  think  what  I  want  to  say  is  that  rap  and  gangster  rap  must 
be  placed  in  a  historical,  political  and  social  context,  as  all  of  us, 
I  think,  are  attempting  to  do.  The  present  level  of  scrutiny  about 
gangster  rap,  besides  its  legitimate  concern  with  vicious  forms  of 
misogyny  and  sexism  and,  interestingly  enough,  the 
underrepresented  forms  of  homophobia  that  pervade  most  music  in 
American  culture — and,  of  course,  we  could  talk  about  gangster 
rap,  in  particular — the  silence  about  homophobia  is  itself  an  index 
of  the  way  in  which  certain  issues  can  be  politically  taken  and  ex- 
ploited while  others  remain  silent.  "Fag"  and  "dike"  as  much  as 
"bitch"  and  "ho"  are  littered  throughout  the  language  of  gangster 

Yet,  what  it  indicates,  perhaps,  in  an  unconscious  way  is  that  we 
participate  in  the  very  homophobia  that  gangster  rappers  talk 

i^  Journalism  Quarterly,  62(1),  144-147.  Caplan,  R.  (1985). 


about  and  therefore  don't  find  it  necessary  to  isolate  and  deal  with 
it.  But  besides  the  salutary  effects  of  focusing  on  those  negative 
things,  one  of  the  most  powerful  things  we  must  not  forget  about 
gangster  rap  is  that  it  expresses  what  I  believe  is  an  ongoing,  time- 
honored  tradition,  and  that  is  the  demonizing  of  young  black  men, 
in  particular,  but  black  youth  culture  as  well. 

The  pathologization  of  black  youth  culture,  we  must  be  quite  cau- 
tious and  careful  about.  I  think  to  pay  attention  to  gangster  rap  is 
quite  important,  but  to  automatically  pathologize  it — that  is,  to  de- 
scribe it  in  ways  that  link  it  to  serious  disease — is  it  itself  some- 
thing that  is  not  new  with  gangster  rap. 

For  instance,  when  we  think  about  the  plantation  to  the  post-in- 
dustrial city  during  slavery,  the  very  language  we  use  to  describe 
gangster  rap  was  used  to  describe  black  people.  The  very  language 
that  we  use  to  describe  the  ill  effects  of  the  constant  exposure  to 
violence,  about  which  I  am  as  well  quite  concerned — these  same 
images  and  battery  of  images  were  deployed  against  black  men  and 
women  at  the  behest  of  a  white  racist,  supremacist  ideology  that 
had  no  intent  upon  dealing  equitably  with  black  people. 

So  when  we  look  at  people  being  brutally  behaved,  morally 
flawed,  uniquely  ugly  and  fatally  over-sexed,  this  did  not  begin 
with  gangster  rap.  These  were  images  that  were  put  into  the  main- 
stream of  American  culture,  circulated  in  narratives  and  tales,  sci- 
entific treatises  and  theological  treks  by  -the  American  culture  in 
which  we  live.  So  we  have  got  to  understand  that  historical  con- 
text, and  as  we  approach  gangster  rap  we  must  ever  keep  that  in 

As  the  eloquent  testimonies  that  have  preceded  me  of  Dr.  Tucker 
and  Dr.  Phillips  have  talked  about,  we  certainly  don't  want  to  con- 
done the  vicious  misogyny  and  cruel  hatred  of  women  and  sexism. 
But  as  well  know,  sexism  and  misogyny  did  not  begin  with  gang- 
ster rap.  God  only  hope  that  we  could  isolate  it  there.  Misogyny 
and  patriarchy  and  sexism  are  deeply  ingrained  in  American  cul- 
tural traditions.  Gangster  rap,  to  whatever  degree  it  participation 
in  that,  is  being  imitative,  is  being  mimetic,  is  reflecting  not  its 
own  culture.  It  is  reflecting  the  larger  society  in  which  it  takes 

So  as  we  understand  the  background  of  gangster  rap,  what 
should  inform  our  considerations  about  hip-hop  culture  is  to  under- 
stand, as  the  distinguished  Congresswoman  Maxine  Waters  indi- 
cated, that  it  grows  out  of  very  specific  and  particular  cultural  and 
economic  conditions.  While  gangster  rap  expresses  and  grew  up  in, 
as  we  say,  L.A.,  which  has  dealt  with  enormous  and  paralyzing 
forms  of  violence,  what  we  have  got  to  understand  is  that  it  is  an 
expression  of  rage  against  white  injustice,  against  economic  misery, 
against  cultural  exploitation. 

One  of  the  first  gangster  rap  groups,  NWA,  expressed  legitimate 
concern,  for  instance,  about  police  brutality: 

F the  police,  comin'  straight  from  the  underground.  A  young  nigger  got  it 

bad  'cause  I'm  brown  and  not  the  other  color,  so  police  think  they  have  the  authority 
to  kill  a  minority. 

That  was  a  prophetic  statement  delivered  2  or  3  years  before  the 
Rodney  King  incident,  and  had  we  been  listening  to  the  prescient 
information  being  distributed  by  NWA,  we  might  have  been  more 


easily  receptive  to  the  notion  that  a  Rodney  King  incident  could 
have  happened. 

On  the  other  hand,  I  think  that  we  have  to  point  to  forces  of 
urban  collapse,  the  evaporation  of  opportunity,  the  shift  in  the  po- 
litical economy,  where  we  have  seen  manufacturing  go  down  and 
the  service  industries  escalate,  which  means  that  high- wage,  low- 
skill  jobs  have  all  but  evaporated  for  black  males  over  the  past  20 
to  30  years.  Labor  force  participation  of  black  men  has  gone  down. 

What  does  all  of  this  mean?  This  means,  then,  that  rap,  and 
gangster  rap  in  particular,  fills  a  concrete  political  and  economic 
void,  and  more  particularly  a  cultural  vacuum  that  has  been  cre- 
ated by  racist  and  sexist  and  classist  neglect  of  the  very  conditions 
of  young  black  men. 

In  the  broader  historical  tradition,  gangster  rap  continues,  yes, 
the  vulgarity  that  is  central  to  African  American  oral  traditions  in 
ways  that  we  don't  always  own  up  to.  It  could  have  been  that  20 
or  30  years  ago  we  could  have  held  hearings  about  the  lyrics  of 
B.B.  King  or  Rowland  Wolf,  the  mo-jo  and  the  huchie-kuchie  man 
and  woman,  or  Coco  Taylor.  Vulgarity  is  central  not  simply  to  Afri- 
can American  oral  traditions  known  as  toasts — "Stagger  Lee": 
"Three,  six,  nine,  the  goose  drunk  wine,  the  monkey  chewed  to- 
bacco on  the  streetcar  line,"  and  so  on — but  it  is  littered  throughout 
the  language  of  Chaucer's  Canterbury  Tales.  Vulgarity  represents 
a  stage  of  coming  maturity  among  a  particular  culture  or  a  particu- 
lar population  and  age  group  that  signifies  them  coming  to  grips 
with  the  very  vulgar  conditions  in  which  they  are  nurtured  and 

The  real  vulgarity  here  is  not  simply  gangster  rap  lyrics.  The 
real  vulgarity  that  needs  to  be  indicted  is  the  social  and  economic 
conditions  that  we  allow  to  continue  to  fester  in  the  under-belly  of 
post-modern  cultural  collapse.  [Applause.] 

Mr.  Dyson.  But  more  than  that,  I  think  that  gangster  rap  rep- 
resents a  cry  and  a  scream  against  the  invisibility,  against  the  ne- 
glect that  we  not  only — and  we  can't  simply  say  a  white  racist 
America.  As  has  been  pointed  out,  we  talk  about  the  music  indus- 
try exploiting  gangster  rappers,  but  we  must  remember  that  MTV 
put  on  rap  before  BET,  that  rappers  were  on  the  cover  of  Rolling 
Stone  before  they  were  on  the  cover  of  Ebony  and  Jet,  which  means 
that  there  was  a  cultural  distancing  by  black  bourgeois  culture  be- 
cause we  were  ashamed  about  the  vulgarity  and  the  explicit  lyrics 
that  were  being  done  because  they  pointed  to  things  we  were  em- 
barrassed to  deal  with.  I  say  this  both  as  a  member  of  the  so-called 
member  of  the  underclass  and  now  as  a  petty  bourgeois  negro  intel- 
lectual making  a  living  trying  to  talk  about  the  realities  of  life.  [Ap- 

Mr.  Dyson.  What  we  must  not  forget  is  that  gangster  rappers 
represent  a  population  that  is  among  the  most  politically  invisible, 
politically  underrepresented,  culturally  maligned  populations  in 
American  culture — ^young  black  males.  How  dare  we  remember 
that  in  a  culture  that  not  a  century-and-a-half  ago  put  black  men 
on  an  auction  block  to  sell  them  by  describing  them  in  the  most 
crass,  materialistic,  consumerist  ethos,  driven  by  an  American  de- 
sire to  dominate  black  men's  lives — to  now  hypocritically,  less  than 
a  century-and-a-half  later,  declaim  and  decry  them  for  the  very 


same  explicit  circulation  of  lyrics  and  beliefs  that  it  held  as  pre- 
cious documents  and  as  precious  principles  of  an  American  cul- 
ture— how  dare  we  do  that.  We  have  to  be  more  sensitive.  We  have 
to  be  more  understanding  that  we  cannot  simply  stigmatize  the  vic- 
tims. We  have  to  speak  for  them. 

I  might  add,  if  we  really  want  to  get  to  the  source  of  demonizing 
black  women,  young  black  men  don't  have  the  power.  This  is  why 
Senator  Moseley-Braun  ran  for  the  Senate  because  it  was  a  white- 
dominated  male  Senate  that  had  castigated  black  women's  lives 
and  made  sure  that  the  glass  ceiling  that  was  on  their  lives  would 
turn  into  cement.  This  is  the  real  enemy  in  American  culture. 

Black  bourgeois  institutions,  white  male  culture  and  certain 
forms  of  gangster  rap  all  have  certain  things  in  common.  So  as  we 
expand  the  pallet  of  colors  from  which  we  draw  to  paint  upon  the 
canvas  of  life  the  forces  that  we  want  to  oppose,  let  us  remember 
that  gangster  rap  is  not  simply  an  objective  revelation  or  narration 
of  the  coming  racial  apocalypse.  I  don't  believe  in  the  moral  neu- 
trality of  gangster  rap,  as  I  don't  believe  in  the  moral  neutrality 
of  the  Senate,  as  I  don't  believe  in  the  moral  neutrality  of  the  re- 
cording industry.  All  of  us  must  be  held  responsible  for  the  circula- 
tion of  vicious,  misogynistic,  sexist  and  homophobic  lyrics,  ideals 
and  ideologies  that  we  must  point  to. 

As  I  close — I  am  a  Baptist  preacher;  I  don't  want  to  go  on  all  day 
long.  But  what  I  will  say  in  closing  is  that  if  we  are  going  to  point 
to  the  conditions  that  lead  to  gangster  rap,  I  think  we  will  do  a 
much  better  job  of  understanding  why  young  black  people  see  it 
necessary,  and  young  black  men  in  particular  see  it  necessary  to 
deal  with  life  in  the  way  that  they  do. 

I  would  not  dare  come  here  and  defend  any  attempt  to  in  any 
way  desecrate  black  women,  but  if  we  are  honest  about  it.  Senator 
Moseley-Braun,  Stokley  Carmichael  as  part  of  the  movement  dur- 
ing the  1960's  said  that  the  best  position  for  a  black  woman  was 
prone.  Civil  rights  organizations  were  notoriously  sexist.  Highly- 
trained  black  women  were  sent  to  work  in  civil  rights  organizations 
and  they  were  made  carriers  of  coffee  and  pencil  sharpeners.  Peo- 
ple, because  of  their  extraordinary  talent,  were  made  to  be  sexually 
objectified,  and  we  know  across  this  culture  that  women  have  been 
treated  that  way. 

So  what  I  argue  and  what  I  contend  is  that  we  must  deal  with 
an  honest  assessment  of  the  conditions  that  lead  to  gangster  rap- 
pers. If  we  listen  to  Snoop  Doggy  Dog  when  he  says,  "waked  up, 
jumped  out  my  bed,  I'm  in  a  two-man  cell  with  my  hommie  little 
half  dead,  murder  was  the  case  that  they  gave  me,  dear  God,  I 
wonder  can  you  save  me,"  what  you  have  in  Snoop  Doggy  Dog  is 
a  second-generation  Mississippi  draw  in  the  post-industrial  collapse 
of  L.A.  trying  to  come  to  grips  with  what  it  means  to  make  the 
transition  from  a  stable  life  to  one  that  has  been  undermined  by 
forces  of  economic  misery,  economic  emiseration  [sic]  and  class  divi- 
sion. Those  are  the  real  culprits  here.  As  the  old  black  woman  said, 
be  who  you  is  and  not  who  you  ain't  'cause  if  you  is  what  you  ain't, 
you  am  what  you're  not. 


[The  prepared  statement  of  Mr.  Dyson  follows:] 


Prepared  Statement  of  Michael  Eric  Dyson 

biographical  sketch 

Professor  Michael  Eric  Dyson,  a  native  of  Detroit,  Michigan,  received  his  B.A.  de- 
gree in  philosophy,  magna  cum  laude  from  Carson-Newman  College,  and  his  M.A. 
and  Ph.D.  degrees  in  religion  from  Princeton  University.  An  ordained  Baptist  min- 
ister, he  has  pastored  three  churches.  He  has  lectured  at  colleges  and  universities 
around  the  nation.  His  writing  has  appeared  in  numerous  books,  journals  and  mag- 
azines, including  The  New  York  Times,  The  Nation,  The  Chicago  Tribune,  Transi- 
tion, Cultural  Critique,  Christian  Century,  Christianity  &  Crisis,  Cultural  Studies, 
Social  Text,  Z  Magazine,  Emerge  Magazine,  The  Washington  Post  Book  World  and 
Rolling  Stone.  Dyson  won  the  1992  Magazine  Award  from  the  National  Association 
of  Black  Journalists.  Dyson  has  appeared  on  The  Oprah  Winfrey  Show  to  discuss 
civil  rights  and  the  importance  of  remembering  the  past.  Dyson  had  also  appeared 
on  numerous  other  radio  and  television  programs,  including  National  Public  Radio, 
BET,  and  PBS.  He  has  also  spoken  at  several  film  festivals,  including  the  Sundance 
Film  Festival.  He  has  lectured  in  Italy  on  intercultural  and  multiracial  relations  in 
America  and  Europe,  and  in  the  Netherlands  on  the  historical  significance  of  Mal- 
colm X.  His  book.  Reflecting  Black:  African-American  Cultural  Criticism,  was  pub- 
Hshed  in  June,  1993  by  the  University  of  Minnesota  Press.  Because  of  its  rapid  suc- 
cess and  impressive  sales  (over  7,000  copies  sold).  Reflecting  Black  has  already  gone 
into  second  printing.  Dyson  is  editing  an  anthology  on  Malcolm  X,  entitled  Malcolm 
X:  A  Critical  Reader  (Basil  BlackwelT).  He  is  also  writing  a  book  about  black  males, 
entitled  Boys  To  Men:  Black  Males  in  America  (Random  House).  His  next  book, 
Making  Malcolm  X,  will  be  published  by  Oxford  University  Press  in  the  fall  of  1994. 
A  former  teacher  at  Hartford  Seminary,  and  the  Chicago  Theological  Seminary, 
Dyson  is  presently  a  professor  of  American  Civilization  and  Afro-American  Studies 
at  Brown  University. 

I  am  very  honored  to  have  the  opportunity  to  testify  before  this  subcommittee  at 
the  request  of  the  distinguished  Senator  from  Illinois,  Carol  Moseley  Braun.  I  would 
like  to  divide  my  comments  into  three  sections.  The  first  section  is  an  overview  of 
the  history  of  rap  music;  the  second  section  is  a  brief  discussion  of  the  plight  of 
black  youth  (especially  males)  who  are  in  crisis  in  America;  and  the  third  section 
is  a  brief  discussion  of  gangsta'  rap  and  the  responses  it  has  provoked.  I  hope  my 
testimony  will  provide  a  constructive  way  to  understand  black  youth  and  their  cul- 
tural expressions  (especially  rap  music)  while  avoiding  the  lamentable  tendency  of 
scapegoating  this  most  invisible,  unheard,  misunderstood  and  politically 
underrepresented  of  all  populations  in  our  nation. 


From  the  very  beginning  of  its  recent  history,  hip-hop  music,  or  rap  as  it  has  come 
to  be  known  has  faced  various  obstacles.  Initially  rap  was  deemed  a  passing  fad, 
a  playful,  harmlessly  nonsensical  form  of  cultural  hi-jinks  that  steamed  off  the  mu- 
sical energies  of  urban  black  teens.  As  it  became  obvious  that  rap  was  here  to  stay, 
a  permanent  fixture  in  black  (ghetto)  youth's  musical  landscape,  it  went  from  dis- 
missal to  denigration,  and  came  under  attack  from  both  black  and  white  quarters. 
Is  rap  really  as  dangerous  as  many  (adults)  would  have  us  believe?  Or  are  there 
any  redeeming  characteristics  to  rap  music  that  warrant  our  serious,  critical  atten- 
tion? I  will  attempt  to  answer  these  and  other  questions  as  I  explore  the  culture 
of  hip-hop. 

Trying  to  pinpoint  the  exact  origin  of  rap  is  a  tricky  process  that  depends  on  when 
one  acknowledges  a  particular  cultural  expression  or  product  as  "rap.  Rap  has  been 
variously  traced  back  to  Bessie  Smith's  rapping  to  a  beat  in  some  of  her  music,  to 
Pigmeat  Markham's  "Heah  Comes  De  Judge,"  to  the  revolutionary  verse  of  the  Last 
Poets,  to  the  music  of  Gil  Scott-Heron  ("the  revolution  will  not  be  televised")  and 
so  on.  Some  have  gone  back  even  further,  citing  ancient  African  oral  traditions  as 
the  antecedents  to  various  contemporary  African-American  cultured  practices. 

In  any  case,  the  modern  history  of  rap  probably  goes  back  to  the  mid  1970's,  and 
in  the  burgeoning  hip-hop  cultural  folklore,  to  the  rap  song,  "Rapper's  Delight,"  by 
the  group  Sugar  Hill  Gang.  Although  there  were  other  (mostly  underground)  exam- 
ples of  rap,  this  record  is  regarded  as  the  signal  barrier  breaker,  birthing  hip-hop 
and  consolidating  the  infant  art  form's  popularity.  This  first  stage  in  rap  record  pro- 
duction was  characterized  by  rappers  placing  their  rhythmic,  repetitive  speech  over 
well  know  black  music  (mostly  r&b)  hits.  "Rapper's  Delight,"  was  rapped  over  the 
music  to  a  song  made  by  the  popular  1970's  r&b  group.  Chic,  entitled.   Good  Times." 


Though  rap  would  later  expand  and  perfect  it's  musical  and  technical  virtuosity 
through  instrumentation,  drum  machines,  and  sampling  existing  records,  making  it 
creatively  symbiotic,  the  first  stage  was  benignly  parasitic. 

As  rap  grew  its  expanded  expression  was  still  limited  to  mostly  inner  cities  and 
particularly  its  place  of  origin.  New  York  City.  Rap  artists  like  Funky  4  Plus  1,  Kool 
Moe  Dee  Busy  Bee,  Afrika  Bambaata,  Cold  Rush  Brothers,  Kurtis  Blow,  DJ  Koo 
Hurk  and  Grandmaster  Melle  Mel  were  experimenting  with  this  developing  musical 
genre.  As  it  evolved  rap  began  to  critically  reflect  upon  the  terrain  of  its  genesis, 
describing  and  scrutinizing  the  social,  economic  and  political  constituents  that  led 
to  its  emergence  and  development:  drug  addiction,  police  brutaUty,  teen  pregnancy, 
and  various  forms  of  material  deprivation.  This  new  development  was  both  ex- 
pressed and  precipitated  by  Kurtis  Blow's,  "Those  Are  The  Breaks,'  and  the  most 
influential  and  important  rap  song  to  emerge  in  this  period  of  rap  history,  Ihe 
Message  "  by  the  group  Grandmaster  Flash  and  The  Furious  Five.  The  vision  this 
song  portrayed  screeched  against  the  canvas  of  most  suburban  sensibilities,  employ- 
ing hues  of  dark  social  misery  and  stains  of  profound  urban  catastrophe  in  picturing 
inner  city  life  for  black  Americans: 

You'll  grow  up  in  the  ghetto  living  second  rate/And  your  eyes  will  sing 
a  song  of  deep  hate/The  places  you  play  and  where  you  stay.  Looks  like  one 
great  big  alleyway/You'll  admire  all  the  number  book  takers/Thugs,  pinips 
and  pushers,  and  the  big  money  makers/Drivin'  big  cars,  spendin  twenties 
and  tens.  And  you  want  to  grow  up  to  be  just  like  them  *  *  *  its  like  a 
jungle  sometimes/it  makes  me  wonder  how  I  keep  from  goin'  under. 

The  Message,  along  with  Flash's  New  York,  New  York,  pioneered  the  so- 
cial awakening  of  rap,  catalyzing  its  maturation  into  a  form  of  social  pro- 
test, musical  creation,  and  cultural  expression  that  characterizes  so  much 
of  contemporary  rap. 
As  its  fortunes  slowly  grew  rap  was  still  viewed  by  the  music  industry  as  a  form 
of  cultural  expression  that  would  cease  as  black  youth  became  bored  and  moved  on, 
as  they  did  with  break  dancing.  With  the  advent  of  the  group  Run-D.M  C.  however, 
rap  was  moved  into  a  different  sphere  of  artistic  expression  that  signalled  rap  s  in- 
creasing control  of  its  own  destiny,  Run-D.M.C.  is  widely  recognized  as  the  pro- 
genitor of  modern  rap's  integration  of  social  commentary,  creatively  diverse  musical 
elements  and  uncompromised  cultural  identification  that  pushed  rap  into  the  main- 
stream, and  made  certain  of  its  future  as  an  American  musical  genre  with  an  identi- 
fiable tradition.  Run-D.M.C.'s  stunning  commercial  and  critical  success  almost  sin- 
glehandedly  landed  rap  into  the  homes  of  manv  black,  and  non-black  persons  across 
America,  by:  producing  the  first  rap  album  to  be  certified  gold  (500,000  copies  sold), 
the  first  rap  song  to  be  featured  on  the  24-hour  music  video  channel  MTV,  and  the 
first  rap  album— 1987's  "Raising  Hell"— to  go  triple  platinum  (3  million  copies  sold) 
On  "Raising  Hell,"  Run-D.M.C.  combined  the  Sophisticated  techmcal  virtuosity  ot 
its  D.J.  Jam  Master  Jay,  the  raw  shrieks,  scratches,  glitches  and  language  of  the 
street,  and  the  innovative  and  ingenious  appropriation  of  hard  rock  guitar  nils,  in 
so  doing    Run-D.M.C.  symbolically  and  substantively  wedded  two  traditions:  the 
waning  subversion  of  rock  music,  and  the  rising,  incendiary  aesthetic  of  hip-hop 
music  to  produce  a  poignant  and  provocative  hybrid  of  fiery  lyricism  and  potent  cri- 
tique. "Raising  Hell,^  ended  with  the  rap  anthem  "Proud  To  Be  Black,    intomng  its 
unabashed  racial  pride:  'Ta  know  I'm  proud  to  be  Black  ya'U,  And  thats  a  fact  yall/ 
*  *  *  Now  Harriet  Tubman  was  born  a  slave.  She  was  a  tiny  black  woman  when 
she  was  raised/She  was  livin'  to  be  givin'.  There's  a  lot  that  she  gave/There  s  not 
a  slave  in  this  day  and  age,  I'm  proud  to  be  black  *  *  *"  ^        , 

At  the  same  time  rap,  propelled  by  Run-D.M.C.'s  epochal  success,  found  an  arena 
within  which  to  concentrate  its  subversive  cultural  didacticism  aimed  at  addressing 
racism,  classism,  social  neglect  and  urban  pain,  and  discovered  a  place  that  allowed 
it  to  engage  in  rituahstic  refiisals  of  censored  speech:  the  rap  concert.  The  rap  con- 
cert creates  space  for  cultural  resistance  and  personal  agency,  loosing  the  strictures 
of  tyrannizing  surveillance  and  demoralizing  condemnation,  and  substituting  rel- 
atively autonomous,  often  enabling,  forms  of  self-expression  and  cultural  creativity. 
However  Run-D.M.C.'s  success,  which  greatly  increased  the  visibihty  and  viabil- 
ity of  rap  music  through  record  sales  and  rap  concerts,  brought  along  another 
charge  which  has  had  a  negative  impact  on  rap's  perception  bv  the  general  pubhc, 
spanning  the  ideological  and  racial  spectrum,  (but  certainly  lodged  in  a  secure  gen- 
eration niche  above  the  age  of  25):  the  claim  that  rap  music  expresses,  and  causes, 
violence.  Tipper  Gore  has  repeatedly  sang  the  song,  saying  that  rap  music  appeals 
to  "angry,  disillusioned,  unloved  kids,"  and  tells  them  it  is  okay  to  beat  people  up. 
Violent  incidents  at  rap  concerts  in  Los  Angeles,  Pittsburgh,  Cleveland,  Atlanta, 
Cincinnati,  and  New  York  City  have  only  reinforced  the  popular  perception  that  rap 


is  intimately  linked  to  violent  social  behavior  by  mostly  black  and  Latino  inner  city 
kids.  Countless  black  parents,  too,  have  had  negative  reactions  to  rap  music,  and 
the  black  radio  and  media  establishment,  although  not  as  vocal  as  Gore,  have  voted 
with  their  silence  allocating  much  less  air  play  and  print  coverage  to  rap  than  war- 
ranted by  its  impressive  record  sales. 

Such  reactions  betoken  a  shallow  understanding  of  rap,  and  in  many  cases  an  un- 
willingness to  listen  to  the  Ijrrics  of  many  (but  not  all)  rap  songs,  which  counsel  anti- 
violent  and  anti-drug  behavior  among  the  youth  who  are  their  captive  audience. 
Many  rappers  have  spoken  directly  against  violence,  as  rapper  KRS-One,  on  his 
song  "Stop  The  Violence".  Also,  a  top  seUing  rap  record  in  America  in  1989,  entitled 
"Self-Destruction,"  opened  with  a  quote  from  Malcolm  X,  insisted  that  violence  pre- 
dated rap,  and  spoke  against  escalating  black  on  black  crime  that  erodes  the  social 
and  communal  fabric  of  already  debased  black  inner  cities  across  America:  "Well  to- 
day's topic  is  self-destruction,  It  really  ain't  the  rap  audience  that's  buggin'/It's  one 
or  two  suckers,  ignorant  brothers,  Tryin'  to  rob  and  steal  from  one  another  *  *  * 
'Cause  the  way  we  live  is  positive.  We  don't  kill  our  relatives/  *  *  *  Back  in  the  60's 
our  brothers  and  sisters  were  hanged.  How  could  you  gang-bang?/!  never,  ever  ran 
from  the  Ku  Klux  Klan,  and  I  shouldn't  have  to  run  from  a  olack  man,  'Cause  that's/ 
Self-destruction,  ya  headed  for  self-destruction  *  *  *  " 

Despite  such  potent  messages,  many  mainstream  blacks  and  whites  persist  in  cat- 
egorically negative  appraisals  of  rap  music,  displaying  a  disappointing  inability 
(often  fed  bv  a  lack  oi  desire)  to  distinguish  between  enabling,  productive  rap  mes- 
sages and  the  social  violence  that  exists  in  many  inner  city  communities,  and  often 
reflected  in  rap  songs.  Of  course,  it  is  difficult  for  a  culture  that  is  serious  about 
the  maintenance  of  social  arrangements,  economic  conditions,  and  political  choices 
that  create  and  reproduce  poverty,  racism,  sexism,  classism  and  violence,  to  display 
a  significant  appreciation  for  musical  expressions  that  contest  and  scandalize  the 
existence  of  such  problems  in  black  and  Latino  communities  across  America.  What 
is  doubly  disappointing,  however,  is  the  continued  complicity  of  black  radio  stations 
in  this  sordid  equivalent  to  Alan  Bloom's  and  E.D.  Hirsch's  eUtist  cultural  and  intel- 
lectual agenda,  that  amounts  to  opprobrious  bases  for  judging  the  suitability  and 
propriety  of  musical  tastes. 

liie  conspiracy  of  silence  is  not  limited  to  black  radio,  however,  as  expressions  of 
conservative  black  cultural  sensibilities  pervade  the  print  media  as  well.  Although 
rapper  M.C.  Shan  believes  that  most  anti-rap  bias  arises  from  outside  the  black 
community,  he  faults  black  radio  for  depriving  rap  of  adequate  airplay,  and  laments 
the  fact  that  "if  a  white  rock  n'  roll  magazine  like  Rolling  Stone  or  Spin  can  put 
a  rapper  on  the  cover  and  Ebony  and  Jet  won't,  that  means  there's  really  something 

In  this  regard,  rap  music  is  emblematic  of  the  shift  in  aesthetic  sensibilities  that 
divides  blacks  inter-generationally,  and  symbolizes  the  brazen  economic  barriers 
which  increasingly  blockade  underclass  blacks  from  middle  and  upper-middle  class 
blacks.  Rap,  in  fine,  is  a  testimony  to  the  intraracial  class  division  which  has  been 
in  process  in  African-American  communities  for  the  last  thirty  years.  The  increasing 
social  isolation,  economic  desperation,  political  degradation  and  cultural  exploitation 
undergone  by  most  underclass  communities  in  the  past  few  decades,  then,  has  given 
rise  to  a  form  of  musical  expression  which  captures  the  terms  of  underclass  exist- 

This  does  not  suggest,  however,  that  rap  has  been  limited  to  the  underclass,  only 
that  its  main  ingredients  (major  themes,  styles,  etc.)  continue  to  be  drawn  from  the 
complexities,  conflicts  and  contradictions  of  black  urban  life.  One  of  the  newer 
trends  in  rap  music,  though,  is  the  development  of  "pop"  rap,  by  groups  like  J.J. 
Fad,  The  Fat  Boys,  D.J.  Jazzy  Jeff  and  The  Fresh  Prince,  and  Tone  Loc.  D.J.  Jazzy 
Jeff  and  The  Fresh  Prince,  for  example,  are  two  suburbanites  from  South  West 
Philadelphia  and  Winfield  (for  that  matter,  the  most  radical  rap  group.  Public 
Enemy,  are  suburbanites  from  Long  Island).  D.J.  Jazzy  Jeff  and  Fresh  Prince's 
album,  "He's  The  D.J.,  I'm  The  Rapper,"  has  sold  over  3  million  copies,  primarily 
due  to  their  enormously  successful  single,  "Parents  Just  Don't  Understand."  This 
record,  which  rapped  humorously  about  various  crises  associated  with  being  a  teen, 
struck  a  chord  with  teenagers  across  racial  and  class  spectrums,  signalling  the  ex- 
ploration of  rap's  populist  terrain,  and  could  well  have  been  the  soundtrack  to 
'Risky  Business."  Fresh  Prince's  success  on  the  television  sitcom  "Fresh  Prince  of 
Bel-Air"  attests  to  his  popular  appeal. 

Rapper  Tone  Loc's  success  also  expresses  rap's  division  between  hardcore  (social 
consciousness  and  racial  pride  backed  by  raw,  driving  rhythms)  and  pop  (exploration 
of  common  territory  between  races  and  classes,  usually  devoid  of  social  message). 
This  division,  while  expressing  the  expansion  of  rap,  also  means  that  companies  and 
willing  radio  executives  have  increasingly  chosen  pop  rap  as  more  acceptable  than 


its  more  realistic,  politically  conscious  counterpart.  Loc  is  an  L.A.  rapper  whose  first 
single,  "Wild  Thing,"  sold  over  two  million  copies,  topping  Billboard's  Hot  Singles 
Chart,  the  first  rap  song  to  achieve  this  height.  Loc's  success  was  sparked  by  his 
video's  placement  in  heavy  rotation  on  MTV,  which  devotes  an  hour  on  Saturday's 
to  To!  MTV  Raps,"  a  show  that  has  become  so  popular  that  a  daily  half-hour  seg- 
ment has  been  added. 

D.J.  Jazzy  Jeff  and  The  Fresh  Prince  and  Tone  Loc's  success  inevitably  raises  the 
specter  of  mainstream  dilution,  the  threat  to  every  emergent  form  of  cultural  pro- 
duction in  American  culture,  particularly  the  fecund  musical  tradition  that  comes 
from  Black  America.  For  many,  this  means  the  sanitizing  of  rap's  expression  of 
urban  realities,  resulting  in  sterile  hip-hop  which,  devoid  of  its  original  fire,  will  of- 
fend no  one.  (Run-D.M.C.'s  followup  to  "Raising  Hell,"  1988's  "Tougher  Than  Leath- 
er," from  their  movie  of  the  same  name,  is  sometimes  cited  as  a  case  in  point).  This 
scenario,  of  course,  is  a  familiar  denouement  to  the  story  of  most  formerly  subver- 
sive musical  genres. 

Also,  MTV's  early  acceptance  of  rap,  and  the  staging  of  rap  concerts  run  by  white 
promoters  willing  to  take  a  chance  on  rap  artists,  reflected  the  sad  state  of  cultural 
affairs  in  many  black  communities,  whose  continued  refusal  to  acknowledge  authen- 
tic, (not  to  mention  desirable)  forms  of  rap  artistry,  ensured  rap's  early  existence 
on  the  margins  of  many  black  communities.  More  tragically,  by  turning  their  backs 
on  rap  music,  promotion  of  rap  concerts,  and  charity  benefits  utilizing  the  talents 
and  influence  of  rap  artists,  many  black  businesses  closed  the  door  on  viable  ways 
of  strengthening  the  weak  economic  infrastructure  of  many  inner  city  communities. 

Perhaps  the  example  of  another  neglected  and  devalued  black  musical  tradition, 
the  blues,  can  be  helpful  in  understanding  what  is  occurring  between  rap,  segments 
of  the  black  community,  and  the  mainstream.  With  its  mostlv  young  white  audience, 
many  young  blacks  (and  older  ones  too),  and  older  whites  do  not  support  the  blues 
through  concert  patronage  or  record  buying,  thus  neglecting  a  musical  genre  that 
was  closely  identified  with  devalued,  degraded  and  despised  people:  poor  southern, 
agrarian  blacks,  and  the  northern,  urban  black  poor,  the  first  stratum  of  the  devel- 
oping underclass. 

In  many  ways,  the  blues  functioned  for  another  generation  of  blacks  in  a  \vay 
similar  to  how  rap  functions  for  young  blacks  today:  as  a  source  of  racial  identity; 
permitting  forms  of  boasting  and  asserting  machismo  for  devalued  black  men  suffer- 
ing from  social  emasculation;  allowing  commentary  on  social  and  personal  condi- 
tions in  uncensored  lang^iage;  and  the  ability  to  transform  hurt  and  anguish  into 
art  and  commerce.  Even  in  its  heyday,  however,  the  blues  existed  as  a  secular  musi- 
cal genre  over  against  the  religions  sensibilities  which  described  the  blues  as  devil's 
music  and  the  conservative  black  cultural  sensibilities  which  viewed  the  blues  as 
slightly  barbaric.  These  feeUngs,  along  with  the  direction  of  southern  agrarian  musi- 
cal energies  into  a  somewhat  more  accessible  and  populist  soul  music,  ensured  the 
contraction  of  the  economic  and  cultural  basis  for  expressing  life  experience  in  the 
blues  idiom. 

Robert  Cray's  new  found  success  in  mainstreaming  the  blues  perhaps  completes 
the  cycle  of  survival  for  devalued  forms  of  black  music:  it  originates  in  a  context 
of  anguish  and  pain,  and  joy  and  happiness;  it  expresses  those  emotions  and  ideas 
in  a  musical  language  and  idiom  peculiar  to  its  view  of  life;  it  is  altered  due  to  cul- 
tural sensibilities  and  economic  factors/realities,  and  is  refracted  to  the  world 
through  the  prism  of  mainstream  distribution,  packaging  and  consumption  for  lei- 
surely or  cathartic  pleasure  through  concert  attendance  or  record  bujdng.  Also,  in 
the  process,  the  artist  him/herself  is  removed  from  the  immediate  context  and  origi- 
nal site  of  his/her  artistic  production.  Moreover,  besides  the  everyday  ways  in  which 
the  music  is  employed  in  a  variety  of  entertainment  functions,  it  may  be  occasion- 
ally employed  in  contexts  which  undermine  its  critique  of  the  status  quo  and  used 
to  legitimize  a  setting  which,  in  negative  ways,  has  partially  given  rise  to  its  expres- 

The  most  recent  example  of  this  is  Lee  Atwater's  positioning  of  himself  as  a  privi- 
leged patron  of  the  blues  and  soul  music  traditions  in  the  1990  Bush  inauguration 
festivities,  preceded  by  his  racist  use  of  the  Willie  Horton  case.  Atwater's  use  of 
Willie  Horton  viciously  played  on  the  very  prejudices  against  black  men  that  has 
often  led  to  blues  musicians  expressing  the  psychic,  personal  and  social  pain  occa- 
sioned by  racism  in  American  (Political)  culture.  Rap's  visibility  may  alter  this  pat- 
tern as  it  continues  to  grow,  but  its  self-defined  continuing  challenge  is  to  niaintain 
its  aesthetic,  cultural  and  political  proximity  to  its  site  of  original  expression:  the 

Interestingly,  a  new  wave  of  rap  artists  may  be  accomplishing  this  goal,  but  vnth 
foreboding  consequences.  For  example,  N.W.A.  (Niggers  With  Attitudes)  reflect  the 
brutal  circumstances  that  define  the  boundaries  within  which  most  underclass  black 


kids  in  L.A.  must  live.  For  the  most  part  they  have,  unlike  their  socially  conscien- 
tious counterparts  PubUc  Enemy,  Boogie  Down  Productions,  and  Stetsasonic,  no  eth- 
ical remove  from  the  violence,  gang  bangin'  and  drugs  in  L.A.'s  inner  city.  In  their 
song  "The  Police,"  a  sample  of  their  reality: 

Fuck  the  police,  comin'  straight  from  the  underground.  A  young  nigger 
got  it  bad  'cause  I'm  brown/And  not  the  other  color,  so  police  think.  They 
have  the  authority  to  kill  a  minority/  *  ♦  *  Searchin'  my  car  looking  for  the 
product,  Thinkin'  every  nigger  is  sellin'  narcotic/  *  *  *  But  don't  let  it  be 
a  black  and  a  white  one,  'Cause  they'll  slam  ya  down  to  the  street  top, 
Black  police  showin'  out  for  the  white  cop  *  *  * 

Such  expressions  of  violence  certainly  reflect  the  actual  life  circumstances  of  many 
black  and  Latino  youth  caught  in  the  desperate  cycle  of  drugs  and  gangs  involved 
in  L.A.  ghetto  living.  N.W.A.  portrays  a  view  of  life  that  celebrates  a  lethal  mix  of 
civic  terrorism  and  personal  cynicism.  Their  attitude  is  both  one  answer  to,  and  the 
logical  outcome  of  the  violence,  racism  add  oppression  in  American  culture.  On  the 
other  hand,  their  vision  must  be  criticized,  for  the  stakes  are  too  high  for  the  luxury 
of  moral  neutrality.  Having  lived  the  life  they  rap  about,  N.W.A.  understands  the 
viciousness  of  police  brutality.  However,  they  must  also  be  challenged  to  develop  an 
ethical  perspective  on  the  drug  gangs  which  duplicate  police  violence  in  black  on 
black  crime.  While  rappers  like  N.W.A.  perform  an  invaluable  service  by  rapping  in 
poignant  and  realistic  terms  about  urban  underclass  existence,  they  must  be  chal- 
lenged to  expand  their  moral  vocabulaiy  and  be  more  sophisticated  in  their  under- 
standing that  description  alone  is  insufficient  addressing  the  crises  of  black  urban 
life.  Groups  like  N.W.A.  should  be  critically  aware  that  blacks  are  victims  of  the  vio- 
lence of  both  state  repression  and  gang  violence;  that  one  form  of  violence  (as  they 
understand)  is  often  the  response  to  the  other,  and  that  blacks  continue  to  be  cap- 
tive to  disenabling  lifestyles  (gang-bangin',  drug  dealing),  that  cripple  the  life  of 
black  communities. 

Also  problematic  is  the  sexist  sentiment  that  pervades  so  much  of  rap  music,  ex- 
pressing the  sexism  that  continues  to  mediate  the  relations  among  the  younger 
black  generation  with  lamentable  intensity.  As  Harry  Allen  says  in  an  Essence  mag- 
azine article,:  "As  I  once  told  a  sister,  hip-hop  lyrics  are,  among  other  things,  what 
a  lot  of  Black  Then  say  about  Black  women  when  Black  women  aren't  around  *  *  * 
Because  women  are  the  ones  best  able  to  define  sexism,  they  will  have  to  challenge 
the  music — tell  it  how  to  change  and  make  it  change — if  change  is  to  come.  Oruy 
then  will  record  companies  cease  the  release  of  cuts  that  call  for  bitch-smacking." 

While  it — is  true  that — rap's  sexism  is  indeed  a  barometer  of  the  general  tenor 
and  mood  that  mediates  black  male/female  relations,  it  is  not  primarily  the  role  of 
women  to  challenge.  Rather,  it  must  flow  from  women  and  men  who  are  sensitive 
to  the  ongoing  sexist  attitudes  and  behavior  which  dominate  black  male/female  rela- 
tionships. Because,  women  do  not  by  and  large  run  record  companies,  or  even  head 
independent  labels  which  have  their  records  distributed  by  larger  major  corpora- 
tions, it  is  naive  to  assume  that  the  protest  by  women  alone  will  arrest  the  spread 
of  sexism  in  rap.  Female  rappers  are  certainly  a  potential  resource  for  challenging 
existing  sexist  attitudes,  but  given  the  sexist  barriers  that  patrol  rap's  borders, 
(even  though  rap  activity  among  women  is  increasing),  men  who  rap  must  be  chal- 
lenged by  non-sexist  men,  especially  male  rappers,  who  contest  the  portrayal  of 
women  in  most  rap  music.  The  constant  reference  to  women  as  "skeezers,"  bitches, 
and  ho's,  only  reinforce  the  perverted  expression  of  male  dominance  and  patriarchy, 
and  reasserts  the  coerced  inferiority  and  objectification  of  women,  constituting  them 
as  sexual  obiects  meant  exclusively  for  male  pleasure. 

Fortunately,  many  of  the  problems  related  to  rap,  particuleirly  with  black  radio, 
media  and  community  acceptance,  have  only  fostered  a  sense  of  camaraderie  that 
transcends  in  crucial  ways  the  fierce  competitive  streak  in  rap  that,  at  its  best  mo- 
ments, urges  rappers  on  to  creative  musical  heights.  While  the  "dis"'  rap  is  alive 
and  well  (which  humorously  musicalizes  "the  dozens,"  with  rappers  playfully,  but 
not  always,  talking  about  other  rappers),  the  overall  feeling  among  rap  artists  that 
rap  must  exist  and  flourish  outside  the  sanctions  of  traditional  institutional  means 
of  garnering  high  visibility  or  securing  record  sales  (air-play,  print  media  exposure), 
has  directed  a  communal  energv  into  the  production  of  their  music. 

The  current  state  of  affairs  has  also  precipitated  cooperative  entrepreneurial  ac- 
tivity among  young  black  persons.  The  rap  industry  has  spawned  a  number  of  inde- 
pendent labels,  providing  young  blacks  (mostly  men)  with  experience  as  heads  of 
their  own  businesses  and  exposure  as  managers  of  talent,  positions  that  might  oth- 
erwise be  unavailable  to  them.  It  also  means  that  rap  has  flourished,  for  the  most 
part,  independent  of  the  tight  constraints  imposed  by  major  music  corporations,  and 

88-3QR  n  -  Qt^  _  o 


independent  of  the  patronage  relations  which  develop  under  the  severely  regimented 
distribution  of  capital  to  specific  genres  of  music  in  tnese  corporations. 

Although  many  independent  companies  have  struck  distrioution  deals  with  major 
labels,  such  as  Atlantic,  MCA,  Columbia,  and  Warner  Brothers,  it  is  usually  the 
case  that,  given  the  major  labels  inexperience  in  rap,  their  continued  conservatism 
in  musical  taste  and  in  anticipating  trends  in  rap,  the  independent  labels  continue 
to  control  their  destinies  by  teaching  the  majors  invaluable  lessons  about  street 
sales,  the  necessity  to  have  a  fast  rate  of  delivery  from  production  of  record  to  its 
date  of  distribution,  remaining  close  to  the  sensibilities  of  the  street,  and  a  willing- 
ness to  experiment  and  be  diverse  in  its  marketing/business  approach  as  rap  itself 
continues  to  diversify  its  style. 

What  is  also  gratifying  in  rap  is  the  expression  of  the  ongoing  preoccupation  with 
literacy  that  has  impelled  the  African-American  community  forward  since  the  incep- 
tion of  legally  coerced  illiteracy  under  slavocracy.  Rap  artists  explore  grammatical 
creativity,  verbal  wizardry,  and  linguistic  innovation  in  the  art  of  oral  communica- 
tion with  a  welcome  vengeance.  The  rap  artist,  as  Cornel  West  has  indicated,  is  a 
bridge  fl^re  who  combines  the  two  potent  traditions  in  black  culture:  preaching 
and  music.  The  rap  artist  is  the  figure  who  appeals  to  the  rhetorical  practices  elo- 
quently honed  in  African-American  religious  experiences,  and  the  cultural  potency 
of  black  singing/musical  traditions  to  produce  an  engap;ing  hybrid.  In  a  sense,  they 
are  truly  urban  griots  dispensing  social  and  cultural  critique.  The  culture  of  hip-hop 
has  generated  a  lexicon  oi  life  that  expresses  rap's  b-boy/b-girl  worldview,  a  perspec- 
tive that  takes  delight  in  the  postmodern  practice  of  demystifying  high  classical 
strictures  on  language,  and  celebrates  the  culturally  encodea  twists  of  phrases  that 
communicate  in  tneir  own  idiom. 

What  is  also  refreshing  about  hip-hop  culture  is  the  revival  of  an  explicit  histori- 
cism  that  combats  the  amnesia  threatening  to  further  consign  the  measured 
achievements  of  the  recent  black  past  into  disabling  lapses  of  memory.  Hip-hop  has 
infused  a  revived  sense  of  historical  pride  into  young  black  minds  that  is  salutary 
insofar  as  it  provides  a  solid  base  for  self-esteem.  Rap  music  has  also  focused  re- 
newed attention  on  black  nationalist  discourse  and  black  radical  thought.  This  re- 
vival has  been  best  symbolized  by  the  rap  group  Public  Enemy.  Public  Enemy  an- 
nounced its  black  nationalism  in  embryonic  form  on  their  first  album,  "Yo!  Bum 
Rush  The  Show,"  but  their  vision  sprang  forward  full  blown  in  their  important,  "It 
Takes  A  Nation  Of  Millions  To  Hold  Us  Back."  The  albums's  explicit  black  national- 
ist language  and  cultural  sensibilities  were  joined  with  a  powerful  mix  of  music, 
beats,  screams,  noise,  and  rhythms  from  the  streets.  Its  message  is  provocative, 
even  jarring,  a  precis  of  the  contained  chaos  and  channeled  rage  that  informs  the 
most  politically  astute  rappers. 

On  the  cut  Bring  The  Noise,"  they  intone:  "We  got  to  demonstrate,  come  one  now, 
they're  gonna  have  to  wait/Till  we  get  it  right/  Radio  stations  I  question  their  black- 
ness/They call  themselves  black,  but  we'll  see  if  they'll  play  this/Turn  it  up!  Bring 
the  noise!*  *  *,"  Public  Enemy  speaks  also  of  the  criminality  of  prison  conditions 
(as  they  have  rapped  about  before  a  prison  audience  at  Riker's  Island)  and  how  dope 
dealers  fail  the  black  community.  Their  historical  revivalism  is  noteworthy,  as  they 
rap  on  "Party  For  Your  Right  To  Fight"  (a  twist  on  the  Beastie  Boys):  "Power  Equal- 
ity/And we're  out  to  get  it/I  know  some  of  you  ain't  wit'  it/This  party  started  right 
in  '66/With  a  pro-Black  radical  mix/Then  at  the  hour  of  twelve/*  *  *  J.  Edgar  Hoo- 
ver, and  he  coulda'  proved  to  'ya/He  had  King  and  X  set  up/Also  the  party  with 
Newton,  Cleaver  and  Seale/*  *  *  Word  from  the  Honorable  Elijah  Muhammed/ 
Know  who  you  are  to  be  Black/*  *  *  the  original  Black  Asiatic  man  *  *  *  "  Public 
Enemy  troubled  more  socio-cultural  waters  with  their  Nation  of  Islam  views,  saying 
in  "Don't  BeUeve  The  Hype," :  "The  follower  of  Farrakhan/Don't  tell  me  that  you  un- 
derstand/Until you  hear  the  man  *  *  *  " 

Such  rap  displays  the  power  and  pitfalls  associated  with  the  revival  of  earlier 
forms  of  black  radicaUsm,  nationalism  and  cultural  expression.  The  salutary  aspect 
of  the  historical  revival  is  that  it  raises  consciousness  about  important  figures, 
movements  and  ideas  which  prompted  the  racial,  social  and  political  progress  that 
permits  rappers  to  express  their  visions  of  life  in  American  culture.  'This  renewed 
nistoricism  permits  young  blacks  to  discern  links  between  the  past  and  their  own 
present  circumstances,  using  the  past  as  a  fertile  source  of  social  reflection,  cultural 
creation  and  political  resistance. 

On  the  other  hand,  it  has  also  led  to  some  forms  of  historical  recuperation  that 
do  not  provide  critical  distance  from  that  past,  but  are  rather  unquestioningly  imita- 
tive, attempting  to  replicate  the  past  without  challenging  or  expanding  it.  This  has 
led  some  young  blacks  to  embrace  present  exemplars  of  black  nationalist  discourse, 
for  example,  without  understanding  the  function  that  figure  plays  in  undercutting, 
or  representing  oppositional  or  antithetical  elements  to  the  figures  and  ideas  they 


would  celebrate  and  learn  from.  (The  relationship  between  followers  and  admirers 
of  Malcolm  X  who  uncritically  embrace  Farrakhan  comes  immediately  to  mind). 
Thus,  their  historical  revival  fadls  to  illumine  as  powerfully  as  it  might,  and  the 
present  generation  of  black  youth,  including  rappers,  fails  to  benefit  as  fully  from 
the  lessons  that  it  so  powerfully  recuperates  and  appeals  to. 

This  of  course  is  one  result  of  the  lack  of  dialogue,  understanding  and  communica- 
tion between  various  segments  of  the  black  community,  particularly  along 
generational  and  class  lines  which  are  symbolized  in  the  black  community's  re- 
sponse to  rap.  Historical  revival  cries  out  for  contexts  that  will  provide  the  bases 
for  revision  and  expansion  that  render  the  past  understandable  and  usable.  This 
can  not  occur  if  large  segments  of  the  black  community  continue  to  be  segregated 
from  the  most  exciting  cultural,  political  and  social  transformation  occurring  in  con- 
temporary American  life,  captured  in  the  artistic  expression,  cultural  exploration, 
political  activity  and  historical  revival  of  hip-hop  artists. 

Rap  is  a  form  of  profound  musical,  cultural  and  social  creativity.  It  expresses  the 
desire  of  young  black  people  to  reclaim  their  history,  reactivate  forms  of  black  radi- 
calism, and  contest  the  powers  of  despair,  hopelessness  and  genocide  that  presently 
besiege  the  black  community.  Besides  being  the  most  powerful  form  of  black  music 
today,  rap  projects  a  style  of  self  onto  the  world  that  disciplines  ultimate  social  de- 
spair into  forms  of  cultural  resistance,  and  transforms  the  ugly  terrain  of  ghetto  ex- 
istence into  a  searing  portrait  of  life  as  it  must  be  lived  by  millions  of  voiceless  peo- 
ple. For  that  reason  alone,  rap  deserves  attention,  and  should  be  taken  seriously, 
and  for  its  productive  healthy  expressions  it  should  be  promoted  as  a  worthy  form 
of  artistic  expression  and  cultural  projection,  and  an  enabling  source  of  communal 


I  have  given  a  brief  overview  of  rap  so  that  we  may  understand  its  emergence 
within  black  culture  as  both  artistic  expression  and  cultural  politics,  and  to  better 
comprehend  the  forces  that  constrain  the  lives  of  our  black  youth  and  that  give  rise 
to  rap  music.  I  now  want  to  turn  my  attention  to  the  population  that  is  most  often 
discussed,  and  feared,  in  debates  about  the  tragic  condition  of  urban  black  America: 
black  males. 

Urban  America  is  living  through  an  epidemic  of  violence  that  has  targeted  and 
viciously  transformed  black  male  life.  Signs  of  a  crisis  among  black  males  are  pain- 
fully plentiful  in  cities  like  Chicago,  for  instance,  as  even  a  glance  at  recent  head- 
lines proves.  In  Cabrini-Green,  two  black  male  teens  were  gunned  down,  the  first 
murders  there  since  a  gang  "truce"  was  adopted  after  7-year-old  Dantrell  Davis  was 
slain  last  October.  A  15-year-old  black  youth  was  wounded  by  police  after  allegedly 
pointing  a  .38-caliber  gun  at  two  police  officers.  A  black  male  teen  was  shot  after 
nis  vehicle  was  carjacked  by  five  black  youth  between  17  and  19.  And  just  last  week, 
a  young  black  male  teacher  was  shot  to  death  while  visiting  his  brother. 

What  does  all  this  mean?  With  chilling  redundancy,  black  males  are  dying  at  the 
hands  of  other  black  males.  The  mutual  harming  of  black  males  has  furnished  the 
thematic  reservoir  from  which  contemporary  black  films  from  Boyz  N  The  Hood  to 
Menace  II  Society  have  drawn  in  portraying  the  cruel  consequences  of  urban  col- 
lapse on  black  male  life.  The  situation  for  black  men,  especially  juvenile  and  young 
adult  males,  is  now  so  decidedly  lethal,  so  fatally  flung  to  the  nethermost  regions 
of  chronic  hopelessness,  that  terms  usually  reserved  for  large-scale  social  catas- 
trophes— terms  Uke  "genocide"  and  "endangered  species"  — are  now  applied  to  black 
men  with  troubling  regularity. 

Other  cultural  critics  have  concluded  that  black  male  violence  is  the  exclusive  re- 
sult of  pathological  cultural  tendencies  working  themselves  out  with  self-destructive 
fury.  On  this  view,  black  male  aggression  is  part  of  a  larger  black  cultural  malaise 
manifest  in  welfare  dependency,  criminal  lifestvles,  gang  activity  and  other  morally 
impaired  behavior  associated  with  an  ominously  expanding  "underclass."  And  even 
when  other,  more  reasonable,  critics  weigh  in  on  the  causes  and  consequences  of 
black  male  violence,  their  analyses  often  skid  dangerously  close  to  reductionist  cul- 
tural arguments  that  blame  the  victims  of  violence  for  its  existence. 

Things  have  gotten  so  out  of  hand,  so  far  beyond  the  pale  of  reasonable  resolution 
that  the  horizon  of  clarity  often  recedes  behind  vigorous  yet  contradictory  attempts 
to  understand  and  explain  the  predicament  of  black  men.  How  then  should  we  pro- 
ceed? First,  we  must  comprehend  the  staggering  array  of  difficulties  that  hound  and 
hurry  black  males  from,  the  cradle  to  the  grave.  The  extent  of  social  injuries  to 
black  male  flourishing  is  indexed  in  the  virtually  mind-numbing  statistical  htany 
that  in  its  sheer  recitation  is  the  most  powerful  testimony  to  a  hydra-headed  crisis. 
Black  males  are  more  likely  than  any  other  group  to  be  spontaneously  aborted.  Of 


all  babies,  black  males  have  the  lowest  birth  weights.  Black  males  have  the  highest 
infant  mortality  rates.  Black  males  have  the  greatest  chance  of  dying  before  they 
reach  20.  Although  they  are  only  six  percent  of  the  United  States  population,  blacks 
make  up  half  the  male  prisoners  in  local,  state  and  federal  jails.  Thirty-two  percent 
of  black  men  have  incomes  below  the  poverty  level.  Fifty  percent  of  black  men  under 
21  are  unemployed.  But  it  doesn't  end  here. 

Between  1980  and  1985,  the  life  expectancy  for  white  males  increased  from  63  to 
74.6  years,  and  only  from  59  to  65  years  for  black  males.  Between  1973  and  1986, 
the  real  earnings  of  black  males  between  the  ages  of  18  and  29  fell  31,  percent,  as 
the  percentage  of  young  black  males  in  the  work  farce  plummeted  20  percent.  Sui- 
cide is  the  third  leading  cause  of  death  among  young  black  men.  And  as  illustrated 
above,  black-on-black  homicide  is  the  leading  cause  of  death  for  black  males  between 
the  ages  of  15  and  34,  as  young  black  males  have  a  l-in-21  lifetime  chance  of  being 
killed.  This  is  not  new;  in  1987  alone,  more  young  black  men  were  killed  within  the 
United  States  in  a  single  year  than  had  been  killed  abroad  in  the  entire  nine  years 
of  the  Vietnam  War.  This  deadly  pattern  of  problems — which  accumulates  without 
apparent  abatement  and  taxes  black  male  mortality  beyond  expected  limits — makes 
it  difficult  to  view  the  black  male  condition  as  the  product  primarily  of  black  cul- 
tural failure. 

Next,  we  should  place  black  male  suffering  in  a  historical  framework  that 
illumines  how  black  males,  far  earlier  than  their  recent  troubles  suggest,  have  been 
cultvu-ally  constituted  as  a  "problem"  category.  From  the  plantation  to  the 
postindustrial  city,  black  males  have  been  seen  as  brutishly  behaved,  morally 
flawed,  uniquely  ugly  and  fatally  oversexed.  The  creation  of  negative  black  male  im- 
ages through  the  organs  of  popular  culture,  especially  in  theological  tracts,  novels, 
and  more  recently,  in  film  and  television,  simply  reinforced  stereotypes  of  black 
males  as  undiscipUned  social  pariahs,  citizens  of  a  corrupt  subculture  of  crime,  or 
docile  imbeciles.  Add  to  that  the  influence  of  scholarly  portrayals  of  black  males — 
particularly  those  contained  in  ethnographic  studies  which  have  both  aided  and  un- 
dermined the  cultural  status  of  black  men — and  one  gets  a  hint  of  the  forces  chal- 
lenging a  balanced  interpretation  of  their  condition. 

Finally,  we  must  pay  attention  to  the  structural  factors  that  spawn  black  male 
suffering.  The  shift  of  the  labor  base  of  black  males  from  high-waged,  low-skilled 
jobs  to  scarcer  service  employment,  the  expanding  technical  monopoly  of  information 
services,  the  part-timing  of  American  labor  where  more  people  are  employed  at 
McDonalds  than  steel  mills  (leaving  them  without  employee  benefits),  and  the 
wrenching  of  the  American  economy  by  crises  in  global  capitalism  all  bode  ill  for 
black  males.  These  changes,  coupled  with  cycles  of  persistent  poverty,  the 
gentrification  of  inner  city  living  space,  the  juvenation  of  crime  and  the  demoraliza- 
tion of  poor  blacks  through  cultural  stereotypes  about  widespread  loss  of  initiative, 
only  compound  the  anguish  of  an  already  untenable  situation  for  black  males. 

I  am  not  suggesting  that  we  can  reduce  the  black  male  crisis  to  its  economic  or 
social  determinants.  Nor  do  I  contend  that  black  males  are  without  responsibility 
for  elements  of  their  condition.  I  am  simply  arguing  that  the  debate  about  black 
males  must  become  much  more  complex  and  sophisticated,  that  its  participants 
must  embrace  a  more  passionate  honesty  and  rigorous  humility  in  unearthing  the 
roots  of  black  male  agony.  It  is  much  easier  to  damn  black  males  for  being  irrespon- 
sible, immoral  or  even  criminal,  than  it  is  to  own  up  to  how  American  cultural  tradi- 
tions and  economic  practices  have  contributed  to  their  pUght. 

This  is  perhaps  most  tragically  true  of  the  spiritual  fatigue  and  psychic  trauma 
occasioned  by  racism,  and  the  ironic  black  male  self-hate  it  engenders,  most  vi- 
ciously expressed  in  black-on-black  homicide,  but  also  insidiously  present  in  less 
conspicuous  gestures  of  mutual  black  male  contempt.  After  all,  black  males  have  not 
been  immune  to  the  destructive  influence  of  negative  cultural  messages  about  them- 
selves, fatally  absorbing  surface  and  subtle  reminders  that  their  lives  are  perishable 
and  expendable,  less  valuable  than  white  lives,  and  not  as  useful  as  famous  figures 
like  Michael  Jordan  and  Bill  Cosby.  Neither  have  they  resisted  the  seductions  of  vio- 
lence; the  addictive  character  of  aggression  is  symptomatic  of  American  popular  cul- 
ture from  hockey  to  Hollywood.  It  is  this  combination  of  violence,  racism,  self-hatred 
and  economic  desperation  that  makes  black  male  life  vulnerable  to  confused  and 
often  unfair  criticism.  But  if  we  are  to  solve  the  problem  of  violent  black  males,  we 
must  solve  their  problems.  To  paraphrase  the  great  Catholic  social  prophet  Dorothy 
Day,  we  must  work  toward  a  world  in  which  it  is  possible  for  black  youth  (especially 
males)  to  behave  decently. 



All  of  the  above  discussion  gives  a  clue  to  how  we  can  best  view  gangsta'  rap.  As 
a  35  year-old  father  of  a  sixteen  year-old  son  (yes,  I  was  a  teen  father),  and  as  a 
professor  and  ordained  minister  who  grew  up  in  Detroit's  treacherous  inner  city,  1 
am  disturbed  by  elements  of  gangsta'  rap.  But  I'm  even  more  anguished  by  how 
some  black  leaders  have  scapegoated  its  artists.  While  gangsta'  rap  takes  the  heat 
for  a  string  of  social  maladies  from  urban  violence  to  sexual  misconduct,  the  roots 
of  our  racial  misery,  remain  buried  beneath  moralizing  discourse  that,  at  best,  is 
confused,  and  at  worst,  is  just  plain — dishonest. 

There's  no  doubt  that  gangsta'  rap  is  often  sexist,  and  that  it  reflects  a  vicious 
misogyny  that  has  seized  our  nation  with  frightening  intensity.  Especially  for  black 
women  who  are  already  beset  by  attacks  from  outside  their  communities,  to  feel  the 
thrust  of  musical  daggers  to  their  dignity  from  within  is  doubly  wounding.  How 
painful  it  must  be  for  black  women  who  fought  valiantly  during  the  sixties  for  black 
pride  in  the  wretched  wasteland  of  American  race  hatred  to  hear  the  dissonant 
chord  of  disdain  carried  in  the  angry  epithet  "bitch"  For  these  reasons  alone, 
gangsta'  rappers  should  be  held  accountable. 

But  gangsta'  rap  has  often  reached  higher  than  its  ugliest,  lowest  common  denom- 
inator. What  so  many  of  its  detractors  fail  to  notice  is  that  at  its  best,  gangsta'  rap 
has  consistently  drawn  attention  to  complex  dimensions  of  ghetto  life  ignored  by 
many  Americans,  black  and  white.  Of  all  the  genres  of  hip-hop — from  socially  con- 
scious rap  to  black  nationalist  expressions,  from  pop  to  hardcore — gangsta'  rap  has 
most  aggressively  narrated  the  pains  and  possibilities,  the  fantasies  and  fears,  of 
poor  black  urban  youth.  Situated  squarely  in  the  serverly  violent  crimes  of  the 
prototypical  postindustrial  city  of  Los  Angeles  and  its  neighboring  borders,  gangsta' 
rap  draws  its  metaphoric  capital  in  part  from  the  mix  of  myth  and  murder  that  gave 
the  Western  frontier  a  dangerous  appeal  a  century  ago. 

So  when  black  leaders  castigate  gangsta'  rap  without  a  sense  of  its  brief  but  in- 
structive history  (do  they  really  know  the  difference  between  the  DBG'z  and  MC 
Ren?),  it  appears  they  are  damning  gangsta'  rap's  excessive  and  romanticized  vio- 
lence without  trying  to  figure  out  what  precipitated  its  rise  in  the  first  place. 
Gangsta'  rap,  and  the  lifestyles  it  feeds  on  and  reinforces,  is  in  large  measure  an 
indictment  of  the  survival  strategies  of  traditional  black  cultural  and  political  insti- 
tutions. And  by  evoking  the  ethical  standards  of  days  gone  by  to  urban  youth  who 
no  longer  find  conventional  methods  of  addressing  personal  and  social  calamity  use- 
ful or  compelling,  black  leaders  simply  drive  a  greater  wedge  between  themselves 
and  the  black  youth  they  so  desperately  want  to  aid. 

Even  more  troubling  is  the  apparent  dishonesty  with  which  the  project  of  reclaim- 
ing urban  black  youth  is  proceeding.  If  we  really  want  to  strike  at  the  heart  of 
sexism  and  misogyny  in  the  black  community,  shouldn't  we  get  closer  to  the  source 
of  these  nefarious  blights?  The  truth  is  that  the  central  institution  of  black  culture, 
the  black  church,  which  has  given  hope  and  inspiration  to  millions  of  blacks,  has 
also  given  us  embarrassing,  even  painful,  traditions  of  sexism  and  misogyny.  De- 
spite the  great  good  it  has  achieved  through  a  heroic  tradition  of  emancipatory  lead- 
ership, the  black  church  continues  to  practice  and  justify  ecclesiastical  apartheid. 
Over  seventy  percent  of  black  church  members  are  female,  yet  they  are  closed  from 
its  central  station  of  power,  the  pulpit.  Most  women  in  black  churches  cannot  be- 
come ordained  ministers  or  deacons,  and  rarely  are  the  few  ordained  female  min- 
isters elected  to  pastor  churches. 

And  yet,  without  acknowledging  this  history,  or  employing  it  as  a  useful  point  of 
departure  to  discuss  the  unavoidable  frailties  of  any  movement  for  transformation, 
many  black  ministerial  or  church-influenced  leaders  excoriate  rappers  for  their 
verbal  sexual  misconduct.  It  is  ironic  indeed  to  listen  to  civil  rights  veterans  deplore 
the  verbal  mistreatment  of  women  by  gangsta'  rappers  without  mentioning  the  noto- 
rious sexism  of  sixties  movements  for  racial  liberation,  which  sexually  objectified 
black  women. 

Sad,  too,  is  the  way  in  which  most  black  leaders  critical  of  gangsta'  rap  remain 
silent  about  the  genre's  vicious  verbal  abuse  of  gays  and  lesbians,  who  are  often  em- 
ployed as  metaphors  for  a  lapsed  machismo  or  an  inauthentic  womanhood.  A  brutal 
battery  of  "fags,"  "punks"  and  "dykes"  are  peppered  in  gangsta'  rap's  vocabulary  of 
rage,  and  black  leaders's  failure  to  make  this  an  issue  only  reinforces  the  inferior, 
invisible  status  of  black  gays  and  lesbians  in  black  cultural  institutions,  including 
the  black  church. 

Gangsta'  rap's  greatest  sin,  in  the  eyes  of  many  critics,  is  that  it  tells  the  truth 
about  practices  and  beliefs  that  rappers  hold  in  common  with  the  black  elite.  This 
music  has  embarrassed  black  bourgeois  culture  and  exposed  its  polite  sexism  and 


its  disregard  for  gay  men  and  lesbians.  We  should  not  continue  to  blame  it  for  ills 
that  existed  long  before  hip-hop  uttered  its  first  syllable. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Ladies  and  gentlemen  in  the  audience, 
this  is  a  Senate  hearing  and  we  want  to  conduct  as  such.  We  have 
a  number  of  witnesses.  I  would  like  very  much  to  have  this  panel 
conclude  before  we  take  a  15-minute  break,  but  the  time  really  is 
running  ahead  of  us  because  everybody  has  ignored  the  red  light. 
Everybody  has  ignored  the  red  light,  so  we  are  going  to  try  to  do 
the  best  we  can  to  keep  on  a  schedule  here  so  that  all  of  the  wit- 
nesses will  have  an  opportunity  to  testify,  to  give  their  point  of 
view,  to  give  their  contribution  to  this  debate.  That  is  why  this 
panel  has  been  structured  the  way  it  has.  So,  again,  I  would  im- 
plore you,  let  us  keep  this  on  a  fast  track,  and  the  applause  and 
the  like  is  really  not  appropriate  for  a  Senate  hearing. 

Sergeant  Stallworth? 


Mr.  Stallworth.  Thank  you,  Ms.  Moseley-Braun.  First  of  all,  I 
would  like  to  know  who  put  me  after  the  professor  here. 


Senator  Moseley-Braun.  I  know.  It  is  tough,  isn't  it?  That  is  all 
right.  You  have  something  important  to  contribute. 

Mr.  Stallworth.  I  want  to  take  this  opportunity  to  thank  you 
for  extending  me  the  invitation  which  made  my  appearance  pos- 
sible. I  am  Ron  Stallworth,  a  sergeant  with  the  Utah  Department 
of  Public  Safety's  Division  of  Investigation.  I  am  a  20-year  law  en- 
forcement veteran  and  I  currently  hold  the  position  of  Gang  Intel- 
ligence Coordinator  for  the  State  of  Utah. 

I  sit  before  you,  first  of  all,  as  someone  who  is  quite  frankly  sick 
and  tired  of  picking  up  the  paper,  turning  on  the  TV,  turning  on 
the  radio  and  hearing  about  or  seeing  some  young  person  who  has 
died  in  this  country  as  a  result  of  gang  violence.  I  am  tired  of  it. 
I  can't  emphasize  that  enough.  It  has  got  to  stop. 

In  1989,  we  discovered  in  Utah  that  we  had  an  emerging  gang 
problem.  Some  of  the  Los  Angeles  gang  influence  had  come  to  our 
communities.  Stereotypically,  there  was  no  reason  for  Utah  to  have 
a  gang  problem.  The  stereot3TDical  approach  to  gangs  is  that  it  is 
a  minority  problem;  it  is  black  and  Hispanic  males.  They  are  prey- 
ing on  the  white  community.  They  are  young.  They  come  from  poor 
family  backgrounds,  a  single-parent  environment.  Usually,  mom  is 
the  one  in  the  household.  The  father  has  long  since  flown  the  coop 
and  they  are  on  welfare.  That  is  the  stereotypical  approach  to  what 
constitutes  gangs. 

Yet,  in  my  State  gang  membership  consists  of  all  that,  but  we 
also  have  good  white,  middle-class  Mormon  kids  who  are  gang 
members  who  are  picking  up  the  gun,  who  are  running  around 
with  blue  and  red  rags,  and  who  are  doing  drive-by  shootings  all 
in  the  name  of  their  particular  gang  affiliation. 

As  I  said,  in  1989  we  discovered  all  this,  and  what  led  me  to  get 
involved  in  the  area  of  gangster  rap  music  was  that  some  of  these, 
"good,  middle-class  white  Mormon  kids"  were  telling  me  they  were 
learning  about  this  environment  through  gangster  rap  lyrics.  I  am 
not  a  fan  of  rap  music.  I  am  a  product  of  the  Motown  era — ^Aretha 
Franklin,  Dionne  Warwick,  and  so  forth.  However,  I  took  the  time 


to  sit  down  and  listen  to  what  this  music  was  saying.  I  was  quite 
alarmed,  quite  shocked,  and  at  the  same  time  quite  enlightened  by 

This  music  was  telling  me  something,  ladies  and  gentlemen,  that 
I  feel  was  very  important.  I  feel  that  we  as  a  society  should  listen 
to  rap  music  as  a  means  of  maintaining  the  social  pulse  of  what 
is  going  on  in  this  community,  especially  as  it  pertains  to  the 
inner-city  environment. 

The  first  great  spokesman  for  black  Americans,  Frederick  Doug- 
las, on  his  death  bed  was  reported  to  have  said,  "agitate,  agitate, 
agitate,"  in  response  to  a  question  of  how  to  incite  social  change. 
I  believe  that  gangster  rappers  represent  the  latest  link  in  that 
chain,  which  extends  from  Douglas  to  the  late,  great  Supreme 
Court  Justice  Thurgood  Marshall,  to  Dr.  Martin  Luther  King,  Jr., 
and  Malcolm  X,  to  the  Reverend  Jesse  Jackson. 

I  believe  that  as  we  delve  deeper  into  this  musical  art  form,  la- 
dies and  gentlemen,  we  must  understand  that  the  revolt  by  the 
youth  of  America  in  the  1990's  is  not  based  on  reasonable,  though 
often  misguided  principles  of  idealistic  social  betterment  of  society 
that  fueled  the  turbulence  of  the  1960's. 

The  youth  revolt  in  the  1990's  centers  on  the  idealistic  vision  of 
the  gangster  culture  and  its  gun  cult  of  violence.  This  societal  up- 
heaval revolves  around  the  furtherance  of  territorial  battles  for 
control  and  dominance,  the  expansion  of  criminal  enterprises  and 
the  exploitation  of  the  young  through  the  expansion  of  the  gangster 
value  system  as  a  part  of  their  mind  set.  This  value  system  is  one 
that,  through  various  entertainment  mediums  which  impact  the 
lives  of  young  Americans,  most  notably  music,  movies  and  more  re- 
cently comic  books,  has  spread  throughout  the  country  like  a  can- 
cer, recognizing  no  racial,  ethnic,  socio-economic  or  geographic 

Gang  attitude  and  behavior  is  not  genetically  inherited.  It  is  a 
learned  response  brought  on  by  interaction  with  established  role 
models.  Today,  many  of  these  role  models  are  represented  in  the 
form  of  gangster  rappers,  and  much  of  the  attitude  and  behavior 
of  the  gang  culture  is  reflected  in  the  lyrics  of  gangster  rap  music. 

Am  I  concerned  and  angry  by  the  content  and  tone  of  gangster 
rap  lyrics,  many  of  which  advocate  the  killing  of  police  officers?  The 
answer  is  an  unequivocal  yes.  I  am  angered  by  it,  but  at  the  same 
time,  ladies  and  gentlemen,  I  understand  why  these  kids  are  say- 
ing what  they  are  saying  about  my  profession.  I  am  not  so  naive 
as  to  believe  that  we  have  not  done  wrong  over  the  years,  and  that 
is  one  of  the  reasons  why  I  got  involved  in  law  enforcement.  As  a 
black  American  of  African  descent  and,  I  might  add,  a  proud  one, 
I  wanted  to  try  and  make  a  difference  in  this  profession.  I  have 
tried  to  do  that  over  the  course  of  my  career  and  will  continue  to 
do  so. 

However,  I  temper  my  anger  by  recognizing  some  important  facts 
about  gangster  rap  music.  First  of  all,  the  youth  of  America,  espe- 
cially those  living  in  inner  cities,  are  hurting  physically,  but  more 
importantly  emotionally.  These  young  people  feel  a  sense  of  aban- 
donment and  loss  of  pride  as  a  result  of  the  system  forgetting  about 
them.  They  feel  like  we  simply  do  not  care  about  them  or  their 


needs.  They  have  become  jaded  by  the  strain  of  growing  up  in  a 
constant  state  of  violence,  neglect  and  depression. 

They  have  become  frightened,  frustrated  and  angry,  but  they 
have  had  a  difficult  time  finding  a  voice  to  put  a  name  to  that 
which  is  causing  their  pain.  Through  gangster  rap  music,  a  lot  of 
these  young  people  have  found  their  voice  and,  as  a  result,  it  has 
allowed  them  to  identify  that  which  is  causing  their  pain.  Quite 
frankly,  they  have  made  America  stand  up  and  take  notice.  Other- 
wise, none  of  us  would  be  here. 

What  I  ask  from  this  committee  is  let  us  listen  to  their  cry  for 
help.  Let  us  try  to  understand  the  root  causes  for  the  expression 
of  their  pain  in  the  form  of  their  lyrics.  Let  us  not  be  controlled 
by  negative  emotion,  but  rather  seek  to  fmd  common  ground  to  try 
to  alleviate  the  cause  of  their  anguish.  Let  us  not  continue  to  keep 
the  gangster  rap  community  at  arm's  length  like  a  disease  plague, 
but  rather  reach  out  to  embrace  them  and  bring  them  back  into  the 
fold  of  mainstream  American  society  because  these  young  people, 
too,  ladies  and  gentlemen,  are  our  children. 

I  might  conclude  by  stating  that  as  a  police  officer,  I  represent 
a  symbol  of  what  the  flag  is  supposed  to  represent  for  this  country. 
When  I  took  my  oath  in  the  State  of  Utah,  I  swore  to  uphold  the 
laws  of  the  State  and  to  defend  the  Constitution  of  the  United 
States.  So  all  police  officers  are,  in  essence,  living,  walking,  breath- 
ing symbols  of  what  this  country  is  all  about. 

We  have  done  wrong  over  the  course  of  the  years  and  we  have 
to  acknowledge  that  fact,  and  I  do  so  wholeheartedly.  But  at  the 
same  time,  my  anger  is  not  directed  at  these  young  people.  How 
can  I  be  angry  at  a  Snoop  Doggy  Dog  or  any  of  these  young  rap- 
pers— and  I  don't  like  a  lot  of  what  they  are  saying  about  my  pro- 
fession or  about  women  in  general,  but  how  can  I  be  angry  at  them 
when  not  too  far  down  the  street  nine  people  sit  in  judgment  on 
the  laws  of  this  land  and  recently  they  said  it  was  OK  to  desecrate 
the  flag,  the  greatest  symbol  that  this  country  has? 

So  if  you  are  allowed  to  desecrate  the  flag  and  talk  about  the  flag 
and  bum  the  flag,  in  essence,  why  shouldn't  you  be  allowed  to  talk 
about  cops  in  the  manner  that  they  talk  about  us,  or  talk  about 
any  other  subject  that  they  want  to  talk  about?  My  anger  is  not 
directed  at  these  young  people.  My  anger  is  directed  at  the  fat-cat 
music  executives  that  finance  them  in  the  first  place  and  allow 
them  to  be  what  they  are.  I  think  that  is  where  our  anger  should 
be  focused,  not  at  these  young  people. 

Thank  you  for  your  time. 

[The  prepared  statement  of  Mr.  Stallworth  follows:] 

Prepared  Statement  of  Sergeant  Ron  Stallworth  on  Behalf  of  the 
Department  of  Public  Safety,  Division  of  In^vestigation 

In  order  to  understand  the  basis  of  my  approach  on  the  issue  of  gangs  and  "gang- 
ster" rap  music  I  feel  it  is  important  to  iirst  understand  a  little  about  my  back- 

I  was  born  40  years  ago  in  Chicago,  Illinois  where  I  spent  the  first  4  years  of  my 
life.  My  family  then  moved  to  El  Paso,  Texas  where  I  spent  my  formative  years  hs- 
tening  to  the  Motown  Sound — Stevie  Wonder,  the  Supremes.  the  Temptations. 
Smokey  Robinson  &  The  Miracles,  the  Jackson  5.  et.  al.;  and  other  so-called  "soul" 
artists  such  as  Aretha  Franklin.  Isaac  Hayes,  Otis  Redding,  and  the  Godfather  of 
Soul— James  Brown.  Following  my  graduation  from  high  school  in  1971  I  briefly  at- 
tended West  Los  Angeles  College  in  Culver  City,  California.  It  was  at  this  time  that 


I  first  became  aware  of  a  group  of  red  and  blue  clad  black  males  calling  themselves 
Bloods  and  Crips. 

In  1972  my  tamily  relocated  to  Colorado  Springs,  Colorado  where  I  joined  the  po- 
Uce  department  in  the  Police  Cadet  program.  This  program  was  designed  to  boost 
minority  hiring,  in  what  was  then  an  all-white  organization,  by  recruiting  qualified 
minorities  between  the  ages  of  17-19  to  serve  in  a  civilian  support  capacity.  I  was 
the  first  black  hired  through  that  program  and  subsequently  found  myself  enduring 
in  that  setting  what  the  legendary  Jackie  Robinson  experienced  as  a  pioneering 
trailblazer  in  professional  baseball.  Nineteen  months  later  I  graduated  from  the  pro- 
gram to  receive  my  commission  as  a  Police  Officer,  again  achieving  a  "first." 

In  1975  I  became  a  Detective  assigned  to  the  narcotics  unit — the  first  person  of 
color  to  achieve  this  distinction.  Along  each  step  of  my  advancement  I  found  myself 
being  under  constant  microscopic  scrutiny  by  my  peers  as  to  whether  my  race  would 
be  a  factor  in  hindering  my  work  performance.  I  was  also  the  brunt  of  numerous 
jokes  with  a  racial  slant  attached  to  them.  I  subsequently  served  in  the  vice  and 
intelUgence  units  and  was  also  assigned  to  the  Colorado  Attorney  General's  Orga- 
nized Crime  Strike  Force.  Between  1980-89  I  continued  working  as  a  narcotics  in- 
vestigator with  the  now  defunct  Arizona  Criminal  Intelligence  Agency,  Wyoming  Di- 
vision of  Criminal  Investigation,  and  Utah  Narcotics  &  Liquor  Law  Enforcement 
Bureau.  Interestingly  enough,  while  working  in  Wyoming  I  often  found  myself  being 
the  only  person  of  color  in  some  of  the  communities  in  which  I  was  assigned  to  con- 
duct investigations.  In  this  setting  I  frequently  received  suspicious  leers,  and  was 
the  focus  of  whispered  remarks  regarding  my  racial  heritage  and  skin  color  from 
some  of  the  "fine  citizenry." 

In  1989  I  was  instrumental  in  getting  Utah  law  enforcement  officials  to  move  past 
their  self-induced  state  of  denial  and  finally  address  the  presence  of  crack  cocaine 
dealing  Los  Angeles  black  gang  members — Bloods  and  Crips.  My  concepts  for  ad- 
dressing this  issue  were  adopted  bv  the  Federal  Organized  Crime  Drug  Enforcement 
Task  Force  in  Salt  lake  City.  A  federal  grant,  based  on  these  concepts,  was  later 
obtained  resulting  in  the  creation  of  the  Salt  lake  Area  Gang  Project,  the  first  multi- 
jurisdictional  gang  suppression  and  diversion  task  force  in  the  State  of  Utah.  I  cur- 
rently serve  as  the  Gang  Intelligence  Coordinator  for  the  Utah  Division  of  Investiga- 

It  was  also  in  1989  that  I  began  studying  "gangster"  rap  music  and  its  correlation 
to  the  gang  cultural  environment.  This  effort  began  in  response  to  Utah  youth  I  en- 
countered the  most  unlikely  of  candidates  who  did  not  fit  the  stereotypical  image 
of  gang  members,  who  avidly  claimed  gang  affiliation  with  the  Bloods  and/or  Crips. 
Their  response  to  my  queries  as  to  the  origin  of  their  knowledge  of  gangs  was  that 
they  had  learned  of  this  unique  and  disturbing  subculture  through  the  listening  of 
"gangster"  rap  music.  As  a  result  I  authored  a  federal  copyrighted  manuscript. 
"Gangster"  Rap:  Music.  Culture  &  Politics.  In  1991  this  work  was  printed  (in  limited 
numbers)  in  a  federally  funded  pamphlet.  In  1993  my  work  was  published  in  Crimi- 
nal Organizations  The  Journal  for  trie  International  Association  for  the  Study  of  Or- 
ganized Crime. 

Since  1992  I  have  been  a  national  lecturer  on  the  subject  of  "gangster"  rap  music 
to  a  host  of  federal,  state,  county,  and  municipal  law  enforcement  organizations.  My 
work  has  been  used  by  several  penal  institutions  in  the  country  as  well  as  by  law 
enforcement  personnel  from  several  foreign  lands  including  Canada,  France,  Ger- 
many, and  Spain.  In  addition  the  U.S.  Air  Force  Office  of  Special  Investigations  has 
disseminated  my  work  throughout  their  worldwide  detachments.  I  have  been  a 
guest  lecturer  on  "gangster"  rap  music  and  gang  culture  at  the  University  of  Utah. 
Brigham  Young  University,  and  Westminster  College  (Utah).  In  addition  I  have 
been  interviewed  on  this  subject  by  a  variety  of  print,  television,  and  radio  media 
and  have  been  certified  as  an  expert  witness  in  the  courts  of  California  and  Texas. 


In  addressing  any  issue  associated  with  gangs  it  must  first  be  fully  understood 
and  accepted  that  gangs  are  first  and  foremost  a  culture  in  and  of  themselves  within 
the  structure  of  American  society.  The  criminal  nature  of  the  gang  culture  and  its 
influence  on  society-at-large  is  such  that  we  must  be  prepared  to  take  a  somewhat 
different  approach  in  addressing  them. 

Traditionally  the  law  enforcement  role  has  been  one  of  reaction.  A  crime  occurs, 
the  police  are  called,  a  report  is  taken,  a  follow-up  investigation  is  undertaken  (if 
warranted  by  the  nature  of  the  crime),  and,  if  lucky,  a  suspect  is  arrested  and  jailed 
and  the  wheels  of  the  criminal  justice  system  proceed  in  motion.  No  effort  is  truly 
made  to  get  to  the  root  causes  of  the  social  forces  that,  over  a  period  of  time,  led 
the  suspect  to  commit  the  offense.  That  effort,  when  undertaken,  is  usually  left  to 


the  discretion  of  the  court  in  terms  of  ordering  evaluation  at  the  hands  of  trained 

The  pervasiveness  of  the  gang  culture  has  stretched  across  the  fabric  of  American 
society — from  urban  to  rural  areas,  from  the  poor  inner  city  minority  dominated 
communities  to  suburbia  and  its  white  mainstream  middle  class  affluence.  This  cul- 
ture recognizes  no  boundary  based  on  racial  or  ethnic  heritage,  socio-economic  back- 
ground, or  geography.  Its  absorption  into  the  mind-set  of  America's  youth  cvilture 
has  spawned  a  radical  change  in  the  philosophy  of  the  law  enforcement  role  in  re- 
sponcUng  to  the  challenge.  Rather  than  "react"  to  the  problems  posed  by  the  inculca- 
tion of  the  gang  cultural  environment  and  value  system  on  American  youth,  law  en- 
forcement has  had  to  learn  to  be  "proactive"  in  its  approach  to  dealing  with  the 
problems  associated  with  gangs. 

That  proactive  approach  has  consisted  of  establishing  and/or  maintaining  a  close 
working  relationship  with  a  host  of  law  enforcement  agencies,  sometimes  in  a  task 
force  concept,  in  order  to  break  down  the  inane  barriers  which  frequently  exist  be- 
tween agencies  competing  for  public  recognition,  funding  increases,  and,  in  some 
cases,  ego  enhancement.  Gang  crime  recognizes  no  jurisdictional  limitation  and  nei- 
ther should  the  law  enforcement  community.  Being  proactive  necessitates  a  closer 
bonding  between  law  enforcement  and  the  community  they  have  taken  an  oath  to 
"serve  and  protect."  Establishing  this  bond  requires  the  shedding  of  long  held  feel- 
ings of  mistrust  and,  in  some  cases,  hatred  by  individuals  on  both  sides. 

Addressing  the  issue  of  gangs  from  a  proactive  stance  requires  that  law  enforce- 
ment expand  its  base  of  function  to  include  a  more  sociological  approach.  Because 
they  deal  with  the  seamier  sides  of  the  gang  culture  in  its  naturad  environment, 
rather  than  from  sterilized  clinical  setting,  law  enforcement  has  become  the  "ex- 
perts" to  which  all  trained  clinicians  come  for  information  in  their  study  of  the  sub- 
ject. Assuming  the  sociological  stance  requires  law  enforcement  to  delve  deeper  into 
the  mind-set  that  governs  gang  behavior.  And  what  is  the  nature  of  that  behavior? 

America  in  the  1990's  is  experiencing  a  social  revolution  among  its  youth,  the 
likes  of  which  has  not  been  seen  since  the  turbulent  era  of  the  civil  rights  revolution 
of  the  1960's.  However  that  is  where  the  similarities  end. 

In  the  1960's  the  revolt  by  the  young  was  centered  on  idealistic  visions  of  social 
and  political  change  for  what  was  perceived  by  some  as  being  for  the  betterment 
of  the  country.  Their  rebellion  against  authority  was,  for  the  most  part,  relatively 
peaceful.  There  was,  to  be  sure,  pockets  of  armed  resistance  and  violent  demonstra- 
tion and  destruction  expressed  around  the  country  by  those  more  militant  and  activ- 
ist in  the  realization  of  their  ideals;  but  in  their  violence  they  tended  to  focus  on 
individuals  and  institutions  associated  with  the  government.  Innocent  bystanders 
were  not,  as  a  matter  of  routine,  brought  into  the  fray  of  the  battleground. 

The  revolt  by  the  young  in  the  1990's,  however,  is  centered  on  the  idealistic  vision 
of  the  gangster  culture  and  its  "cult  of  violence."  Their  rebellion  is  about  the  nihilis- 
tic upheaval  of  America.  This  upheaval  is  not  for  the  social  betterment  of  American 
society,  but  rather  for  the  furtherance  of  their  territorial  battles  for  control  and 
dominance,  the  expansion  of  their  criminal  enterprises,  and  the  exploitation  of  the 
young  through  the  expansion  of  the  gangster  value  system  as  a  part  of  their  mind- 
set. And  if,  as  an  innocent  bystander,  you  get  caught  up  in  gang  violence  then  it 
is  simply  too  bad,  your  bad  "karma"  for  being  someplace  where  you  shouldn't  have 
been — a  "mushroom"  (because  of  your  insignificance  in  sprouting  up  in  the  wrong 
place  at  the  wrong  time). 

The  gang  value  system  is  one  that  through  the  various  entertainment  mediums 
which  impact  the  lives  of  young  people,  most  notably  music,  movies,  and  more  re- 
cently comic  books;  has  spread  throughout  the  country  from  the  skeletal  remains 
of  the  inner  cities  to  the  heartlands.  It  is  a  value  system  which  demands  that  con- 
stant verbal  challenges  and  physical  displays  of  manhood  be  actualized.  It  is  a  value 
system  that  demands  respect  be  shown  to  the  gang  or,  at  the  slightest  hint  of  dis- 
respect— real  or  imagined — violence  will  be  the  expected  outcome. 

It  is  a  value  system  that  demands  immediate  gratification.  It  is  an  "I'm  a  get 
mine — now,"  mentality  that  does  not  accept  a  "wait  and  earn  over  time"  approach 
to  achievement.  The  quest  for  immediate  action  in  pursuit  of  the  tangible  (i.e.,  mate- 
rial items  of  value  or  distinction)  or  intangible  (i.e.  response  to  a  challenge  of  man- 
hood or  respect)  is  an  underlying  factor  for  much  in  the  way  of  gang  violence 
throughout  the  country. 

It  is  a  value  system  that  glorifies  the  personality  trait  of  "wild  craziness."  To  ex- 
hibit a  psychotic  or  psychopathic  mind-set  is  seen  as  a  desirable  distinction,  the 
stuff  of  gang  legend  and  folklore.  This  allows  for  the  gang  member  to  achieve  an 
element  of  immortality  in  the  eyes  of  his  peers  within  the  gang.  That  immortality 
is  clearly  demonstrated  when  the  gang  member  exhibiting  "craziness"  in  the  per- 


formance  of  some  act  furthering  the  reputation  of  the  gang  is  killed  and  his  peers 
graffiti  his  (or  her)  name  on  the  walls. 

This  value  system  has  spread  like  prairie  fire  across  the  country  ensnaring  young 
people  all  along  the  way.  Once  caught  in  its  trap  escape  is  difficult  if  not  impossible. 
In  the  Salt  lake  City  metropolitan  area  the  gang  vedue  system  has  impacted  the 
Uves  of  children  as  young  as  6  years  of  age. 

The  fast  paced  violent  prone  society  of  the  90's  has  allowed  the  gang  culture  to 
become  an  icon  influencing  all  aspects  of  popular  youth  culture.  In  many  respects 
this  influence  is  nothing  more  than  an  extension  of  the  attitude  and  mores  govern- 
ing those  young  people  whose  hves  unfold  in  the  dismal,  sordid  squalor  of  inner  city 
streets.  These  attitudes  and  mores  are  reflected  in  the  music,  language,  and  clothing 
styles  made  popular  by  the  gang  cultural  environment.  Such  diverse  areas  thus 
serve  as  a  means  to  propogate  gang  values. 

The  appeal  which  the  gang  culture  has  on  America's  youth  allows  for  an  outlet 
for  the  adolescent  expression  of  anarchy  and  rebellion.  Gang  members  are  not  half- 
hearted in  their  defiance  of  authority  figures.  As  expressed  in  a  May,  1992  report 
by  the  Los  Angeles  County  District  Attorney's  Office  titled,  "Gangs,  Crime  and  Vio- 
lence in  Los  Angeles" : 

Their  revolt  is  total;  it  confronts  and  confounds  adult  authority  on  every 
level — sex,  work,  power,  love,  education,  language,  dress,  music,  drugs,  al- 
cohol, crime,  violence.  As  icons  of  popular  culture,  gangs  not  only  represent 
a  powerful  group  identity  utterly  inaccessible  to  adults,  they  are  sur- 
rounded with  an  appealing  aura  of  outlaw  danger,  (p.  30) 

Values  associated  with  the  gang  culture  are  the  spark  which  ignites  teenage  fan- 
tasies of  rebellion  against  mainstream  society.  The  irony  to  this  is  though  the  brutal 
destructive  reality  of  the  gang  lifestyle  far  supercedes  the  fantasy,  it  nonetheless 
does  not  diminish  the  power  of  the  myth  to  attract  new  throngs  of  recruits.  These 
recruits  cover  the  gamut  of  the  color,  socio-economic,  and  geographic  spectrum. 

Why  do  these  young  people,  especially  those  who,  at  least  on  the  surface,  do  not 
fall  within  the  stereotypical  pattern  of  so-called  "youth-at-risk; "  flock  to  embrace  the 
gang  lifestyle? 

A  variety  of  reasons  can  be  attributed  to  why  young  people  are  drawn  towards 
the  hght  of  the  gang  culture.  Those  most  frequently  cited  are: 

1.  Sense  of  Identity/Recognition 

2.  Sense  of  Belonging 

3.  Sense  of  Power 

4.  Sense  of  Security  &  Protection 


In  the  gang  environment  having  a  reputation  is  a  primary  motivator  in  a  mem- 
ber's actualization  of  his  existence.  The  effort  to  attain  and  subsequently  maintain 
a  reputation  is  all-  consuming.  Once  established  the  reputation  becomes  an  integral 
part  of  the  gang  members  identity.  It  defines  the  individual  throughout  the  remain- 
der of  his  life  and  sets  the  tone  for  his  role  within  the  fraternal  structure  of  the 
gang.  It  is  a  "badge  of  honor"  to  be  worn  with  pride  and  distinction  within  the  con- 
fines of  the  culture.  The  status  conveyed  to  the  individual  as  a  result  of  an  estab- 
lished reputation  is  immeasurable.  The  nature  of  that  reputation  determines  the 
level  of  influence — "juice"  — the  individual  has  among  his  peers  within  the  gang. 

When  an  individual  proudly  (and  defiantly)  proclaims  his  allegiance  to  the  gang, 
he  is  boldly  affirming  his  sense  of  loyalty  and  commitment  to  his  "homies"  (fellow 

fang  members)  and  the  "hood"  (neighborhood/clique)  to  which  he  belongs  and  which 
as  nurtured  him  (or  her)  along  the  way.  In  the  process  he  is  announcing  his  exist- 
ence in  the  gang  environment,  thereby  enhancing  his  reputation.  In  essence  he  is 
expressing  his  sense  of  identity. 

Gang  members,  stereotypically,  come  from  economically  handicapped  families.  In 
the  vast  majority  of  cases  they  have  been  raised  in  a  single  parent  household,  ab- 
sent a  father  or  other  positive  male  influences.  They  tend  to  be  poor  achievers  in 
school  and,  in  some  cases,  are  functionally  illiterate.  They  have  a  low  self-esteem 
brought  on  by  their  lack  of  achievement  and  as  a  result  tend  to  be  school  dropouts 
and  thus  unemployed  or,  at  the  very  least,  employed  in  low  paying  jobs.  Finally, 
gang  members  tend  to  fall  primarily  within  the  scope  of  minority  classification. 

All  of  the  above  factors  have  led  to  a  societal  "lockout"  of  gang  members  and  their 
world  from  that  of  mainstream  America.  Without  a  definite  sense  of  identity  such 
individuals  have  no  special  recognition.  Associating  with  a  gang  allows  these  alien- 
ated and  dysfunctional  individuals  to  achieve  some  measure  of  identity,  social  sta- 
tus, and  a  sense  of  purpose  in  their  lives.  It  gives  recognition  and  meaning  and  a 


sense  of  pride  to  their  existence.  Their  pride  is  reflected  in  graffiti  pronouncements 
of  defiance,  loyalty,  and  areas  of  achievement.  This  means  of  self-expression  com- 
pensates for  their  low  self-esteem  and  allows  them  to  feel  that  they  are  somebody 
of  consequence. 

There  is,  however,  a  debilitating  effect  on  the  individual  seeking  a  sense  of  iden- 
tity and  name  recognition  through  the  obtainment  of  a  reputation.  The  basis  of 
street  gang  activity  is  centered  on  anti-social/criminal  acts  of  behavior.  If  that  rep- 
utation is  obtained  as  a  result  of  participation  in  criminal  acts  or  other  forms  of 
anti-social  behavior,  the  individual  becomes  mired  in  the  maintenance  of  that  rep- 
utation through  the  continuance  of  such  acts.  It  is  a  vicious  cycle — one  criminal  act 
or  other  form  of  anti-social  behavior  leading  to  another  which  leads  to,  yet,  another. 
Each,  in  turn,  enhances  the  individual's  reputation  which  further  entrenches  him 
into  the  culture  and  lifestyle  of  the  gang  environment.  The  deeper  the  individual 
becomes  enmeshed  in  that  environment  the  more  difficult  it  becomes  to  pull  out  of 
its  constricting  influences. 


The  need  to  belong,  to  be  accepted  within  a  group  of  one's  peers,  is  universal  and 
probably  as  old  as  man  himself.  To  the  individual  who  feels  alienated  from  the  "nor- 
mal" fraternal  infrastructure  of  society  this  need  to  belong  is  especially  great.  It  is 
only  natural  for  such  a  person  to  gravitate  to  a  group  of  like-minded  individuals. 
This  serves  to  reinforce  the  dysfunctional  aspect  of  that  person's  existence  for  it  is 
gratifjdng  to  be  accepted  by  others  who  can  identify  with  your  problems.  It  is  re- 
warding to  share  common  values  and  needs. 

Is  this  sense  of  belonging,  this  need  for  acceptance  that  drives  dysfunctional  and 
alienated  youth  into  the  gang  culture  unique  among  society?  The  answer  is  NO! 
This  conclusion  can  be  reached  when  one  considers  the  socialization  aspects  of  col- 
lege fraternities  and  sororities,  professional  organizations  (i.e.,  American  Medical 
Association,  American  Bar  Association,  et  al.),  civic  groups  (i.e.,  Rotarians,  Lions, 
Elks,  et  al.),  and  law  enforcement  support  organizations  (i.e.,  P.O. P.,  I.A.C.P.,  et  al.). 

For  such  youth  the  ready  acceptance  of  his  peers  in  the  gang  is  a  self-esteem 
builder.  The  individual  derives  a  sense  of  satisfaction  and  is  made  to  feel  important 
about  himself  and  his  place  in  the  world.  The  individual  can  thus  achieve  a  measure 
of  status  and  power  which  had,  heretofore,  been  denied  him  (or  her). 

Once  accepted  into  the  fold  of  the  gang  the  influence  associated  with  peer  pres- 
sure takes  firm  hold  of  the  individual  and  guides  him  deeper  into  the  abyss  of  per- 
sonal destruction.  The  effect  of  peer  pressure  on  a  confused,  impressionable,  and 
alienated  young  person  can  be  overwhelming  and,  in  most  cases  where  gang  involve- 
ment is  concerned,  destructive. 

In  the  context  of  the  gang  environment  peer  pressure  is  most  usually  negative  in 
nature.  This  is  in  keeping  with  the  anti-social  aspects  of  gang  behavior.  For  the  in- 
dividuals described  in  the  previous  paragraph,  without  benefit  of  any  positive  role 
models  to  guide  them  in  distinguishing  right  from  wrong,  the  leaders  of  the  gang — 
the  O.G.'s  (original  gangsters)  or  veteranos — become  the  role  models.  In  such  cases 
peer  pressure  brought  on  by  the  influence  of  a  negative  role  model  can,  and  in  most 
cases  does,  lead  to  an  increase  in  the  sense  of  belonging  and  identification  with  the 


Power,  the  lack  of  it  or  desire  for  more,  has  always  been  a  seducer  of  man.  The 
allure  of  power,  the  desire  to  possess  it,  serves  as  a  great  motivator  for  the  individ- 
ual who  has  long  been  isolated  from  mainstream  institutions  of  achievement.  The 
intimidation  factor  associated  with  the  possession  of  power  is  frequently  expressed 
by  gang  members  as  the  reason  for  accepting  the  culture  as  their  own. 

Being  afflicted  with  the  "power  syndrome"  is  only  natural  for  someone  who  has 
never  had  it.  Without  is  you  become  exploited.  With  it  you  become  the  exploiter.  For 
the  gang  member,  having  power  is  a  natural  consequence  of  the  close  association 
and  group  identity  of  the  gang.  With  that  association  comes  constant  back-up  in  the 
form  of  the  "homies."  Right  or  wrong,  the  "homies"  will  support  any  stand  taken 
by  one  of  their  own.  Knowledge  of  this  fact  can,  of  itself,  reflect  an  attitude  of  invin- 
cibility which,  in  turn,  translates  to  a  feeling  of  power. 

The  sense  of  power  associated  with  gang  involvement  is  best  expressed  in  the 
maxim.  "The  strong  survive  while  the  weak  fall  by  the  wayside."  In  relation  to 
street  gang  members  this  attitude  is  a  direct  reflection  of  she  prison  mentality.  Pris- 
on gangs  have  long  played  a  strong  and  influential  role  with  their  youthful  street 
counterparts.  Many  prison  gang  members  received  their  "prepatory  schooling"  in  the 
street  gang  environment.  This  aspect  of  the  prison  mentality  has  been  reported  on 


by  Sgt.  Joe  Guzman  of  the  Los  Angeles  County  Sheriff's  Department.  In  a  com- 
prehensive report  on  the  history  of  the  hispanic  gang  culture,  Sgt.  Guzman,  perhaps 
the  foremost  law  enforcement  authority  on  this  subject,  states: 

One  of  the  alarming  changes  the  veteranos  brought  with  them  from  their 
years  of  incarceration  was  the  prison  mentaUty.  For  example,  one  prison 
gang  member  might  see  that  another  gang  member  had  something  he 
wanted.  If  he  was  larger,  more  powerful,  or  had  more  back-up  from  his 
homeboys  than  the  other  inmate,  he  Hterally  just  took  the  item  he  wanted. 
If  he  was  angered  in  one  fashion  or  another  he  retaliated  with  deadly 
vengeance  and  commanded  the  presence  of  his  entire  gang  to  back  him  up. 

The  importance  of  the  need  to  feel  and  express  a  sense  of  power  by  gang  members 
was  also  discussed  by  Useni  Eugene  Perkins  in  his  study  of  the  history  of  black 
street  gangs  in  Chicago.  In  his  landmark  book.  Explosion  of  Chicago's  Black  Street 
Gangs:  1900  to  present,  Mr.  Perkins  explains: 

For  black  youth  who  are  alienated  and  who  have  low  self-esteem,  having 
a  sense  of  power  is  extremely  important.  It  provides  them,  at  least,  with 
a  feeling  of  being  somebody  and  of  having  some  control  over  their  lives.  It 
also  serves  as  a  shield  to  help  them  feint  off  threatening  situations.  Belong- 
ing to  a  gang  provides  a  youth  with  a  sense  of  security  and  a  reputation 
that  illicits  fear  and/or  respect  from  his  peers.  The  gang  becomes  his  base 
of  power  and  allows  him  to  feel  important  in  a  society  where  he  would  oth- 
erwise be  almost  completely  ignored  *  *  *  having  a  'sense  of  power'  is 
something  they  feel  is  crucial  to  their  survival,  (pp.  56-57) 

This  concept,  as  expressed  by  Mr.  Perkins,  transcends  all  racial,  ethnic,  and  socio 
economic  backgrounds  in  the  gang  culture. 


Many  young  people  join  gangs  out  of  the  need  to  feel  secure  and  protected  in  their 
peer  environment.  Countless  tales  have  been  told  to  gang  investigators  all  across 
the  country  of  youth  victimized  by  gangs  who,  out  of  a  "sense  of  survival,"  joined 
an  existing  gang  or  formed  a  new  one.  Membership  in  a  gang  ameliorates  the  inse- 
cure feeling  of  alienation  and  lack  of  self-esteem.  If  such  a  youth  lives  in  a  "high 
risk"  neighborhood  this  sense  of  security  and  need  for  protection  is  exacerbated.  It 
is  to  his  advantage  to  become  a  member  of  a  gang  with  the  protection  accorded  such 

Ironically  it  is  the  "traditional"  family  unit  which  usually  provides  the  nurturing 
and  protection  sought  after  by  alienated  young  people.  Without  benefit  of  this  tradi- 
tional support  mechanism  such  youth  will  seek  out  association  with  those  capable 
of  providing  the  same  functions.  Thus  the  gang  fills  a  void  by  assuming  the  role  of 
a  surrogate  family.  The  gang  will  envelop  its  members  in  a  protective  barrier 
against  any  outside  force  which  may  try  to  exert  its  influence. 

To  be  in  a  gang  is  to  choose  a  distinct  though  perverse  (based  on  mainstream 
standards),  way  of  Ufe.  To  accept  gang  values  as  a  component  of  one's  character 
makeup  requires  the  adoption  of  distinct  physical,  verbal,  and  behavioral  modes  of 
expression.  The  acquisition  of  gang  values  into  an  alienated  and  impressionable 
young  mind  only  serves  to  reinforce  the  group  identity  of  the  gang  which  further 
delineates  the  line  of  demarcation  between  the  "have  nots"  (gang  members)  and  the 
"haves"  (those  in  the  mainstream  flow  of  American  society). 

The  basic  foundation  of  the  gang  value  system  is  centered  on  loyalty.  As  men- 
tioned earlier  the  gang  serves  as  a  surrogate  family.  When  no  other  means  of  sup- 
port is  forthcoming  the  gang  will  always  be  there  to  provide  that  sense  of  "family." 
In  situations  which  evoke  high  emotional  output  (such  as  a  death),  the  gang  be- 
comes a  means  of  unifying  the  neighborhood.  When  the  neighborhood  is  collectively 
victimized  the  gang  becomes  their  "warriors,"  soldiers  united  in  defense  of  the 

Loyalty  in  the  gang  environment  is  unwavering.  That  support  is  unjdelding  with 
the  issue  of  right  or  wrong  not  being  a  part  of  the  equation.  With  the  sense  of  family 
bonding  gang  members  into  one  unified  force,  the  issue  of  loyalty  serves  to  further 
solidify  the  relationship. 

In  addition  to  loyalty  the  gang  value  system  emphasizes  that  an  ever-present  dis- 
play of  manliness  be  the  norm.  This  display  is  often  in  the  form  of  hedonistic  con- 
quests of  the  opposite  sex. 

For  gang  members,  the  need  to  demonstrate  their  manhood  is  expressed  in  terms 
of  verbal  and  physical  displays  of  sexual  prowess  and  the  ability  to  fight.  This  is 


especially  true  if  the  fight  is  over  a  challenge  to  that  manhood  or  in  the  cause  of 
upholding  the  honor  of  the  gang. 

In  the  gang  value  system  displays  of  machismo  are  enacted  in  conjunction  with 
a  psychotic/psychopathic  attitude.  This  attitude  is  the  stuff  on  which  reputations  are 
made  and  gang  brotherhood  is  solidified.  The  readiness,  the  avid  desire  to  fight 
serves  as  a  mechanism  for  gang  members  to  release  pent  up  hostility  and  aggres- 
sion. This  release  is  especially  strong  in  terms  of  rebellion  against  mainstream  sym- 
bols and  institutions  of  authority.  As  expressed  in  the  L.A.  District  Attorney's  re- 

*  *  *  The  core  activities  of  the  gang  are  partying  and  fighting.  These  are 
the  things  that  make  gangs  both  frightening  and  appealing  to  young  boys. 
These  are  the  things  that  build  and  define  group  loyalties.  Even  criminal- 
ity, which  is  probably  the  public's  main  perception  of  what  gangs  are  about, 
is  less  a  core  value  of  the  gang  than  a  byproduct  of  the  emphasis  on 
peutying  and  fighting. 

Masculinity  in  the  psychology  of  the  gang  culture  is  rooted  deep  in  the  storied 
Mexican  "machismo"  and  the  celebrated  anti-hero,  Stagolee,  of  Black  folklore.  As  I 
quoted  in  my  manuscript  on  "gangster"  rap  music: 

[Stagolee]  lived  hard,  died  hard,  and  talked  plenty  of  trash  in  between. 
He  was  a  survivor  who  openly  challenged  the  conventional  wisdom.  He 
flaunted  his  blackness,  and  defied  the  odds  against  him  to  achieve  success 
in  spite  of  a  host  of  obstacles  placed  before  him  by  society  (not  the  least 
of  which  was  prejudice  based  on  skin  color,  (p.  48) 

The  vision  offered  by  Stagolee  and  others  in  Black  folklore  exemplifies  the  proto- 
type of  the  "bad  ass  nigger"  image  highly  sought  after  by  black  gang  members.  This 
macho  image  transcends  racial/ethnic  boundaries  and  serves  as  a  mainstay  of  the 
gang  culture — from  both  the  male  and  female  perspective.  As  stated  in  the  report 
by  the  L.A.  District  Attorney: 

*  *  *  The  gang's  ideal  man  is  virtually  identical  to  the  romantic  myth 
of  the  gunfighter  of  the  old  west — a  two  fisted,  hard  drinking,  dangerous 
man  who  is  quick  to  avenge  any  insult;  he  lives  and  dies  by  violence,  with 
his  exploits  rousing  fear  and  respect  in  the  hearts  of  men — and  in  the 
hearts  of  women,  fear  and  desire.  Untamed  by  any  authority,  untrammelled 
by  anything  like  a  job  or  family,  above  (or  outside)  the  law,  he  nevertheless 
obeys  a  code  of  manly  honor;  and,  when  the  little  town  is  threatened  by 
ruthless  outsiders,  he  is  a  far  more  potent  protector  than  the  puny  forces 
of  law  and  order,  (p.  34) 

The  gang  member  thrives  on  the  visible  display  of  this  wild,  hell-raising,  outlaw 
persona.  He  (or  she)  openly  flaunts  his  derision  for  conventional  societal  mores  and 
achieves  great  satisfaction  in  challenging  those  conventions.  He  is  a  risk  taker  be- 
cause it  is  the  manly  thing  to  be  (and  do),  not  to  mention  that  it  serves  as  an 
enhancer  for  his  reputation — a  means  of  self-  survival.  It  is  important  to  the  under- 
standing of  the  gang  mentality  and  value  system  that  the  concept  of  the  psychotic/ 
psychopathic  personality — "wild  craziness" — be  fully  comprehended. 

The  attitude  of  "wild  craziness"  (referred  to  as  Locura  in  the  hispanic  gang  cul- 
ture— a  state  of  being  more  so  than  a  state  of  mind)  has  become  popular  fodder  for 
movies  and  "gangster"  rap  music  depicting  the  inner  city  environment  which 
spawned  the  black  gang  culture.  Movies  such  as  Boyz  'N  the  Hood,  Strapped,  Men- 
ace II  Society,  South  Central,  Juice,  and  Colors;  and  "gangster"  rap  songs  such  as 
Gangsta-Gangsta,  Fuck  the  Police,  The  nigga  ya  love  to  hate,  Bonnie  &  Clyde 
Theme,  Packin'  a  Gun,  .380  on  that  ass,  and  Can't  fuck  with  a  nigga  (to  name  but 
a  few)  speak  of  the  attitude  and  perspective  of  the  inner  city  black  youth. 

This  attitude  and  perspective  is  best  summed  up  in  what  some  "gangster"  rap 
songs  have  described  as  America's  Nightmare:  "The  young  black  male  who  doesn't 
give  a  fuck  about  anjrthing."  Hand  in  hand  with  this  mind-set  and  lending  fuel  to 
its  fire  are  the  elements  of  racism,  poverty,  xenophobia,  ignorance,  intolerance,  mi- 
sogyny, greed,  an  intense  hatred  for  the  law  enforcement  establishment,  and  a  dis- 
regard for  the  value  of  human  life.  The  underlying  purpose  to  this  mind-set,  fre- 
quently stated  in  "gangster"  rap  lyrics,  is  the  pursuit  of  nihilistic  change  in  Amer- 
ican society.  As  stated  on  an  album  cover  by  one  prominent  "gangster"  rapper: 

The  injection  of  black  rage  into  the  American  white  youth  is  the  last 
stage  of  preparation  for  the  revolution.  Prepare — it's  goin'  down. 


The  nihilistic  threat  posed  by  the  attitude  of  the  black  inner  city  inhabitant  (and 
in  reaUty  any  inner  city  minority)  has  been  cited  by  Princeton  University  social 
scholar,  Professor  Cornel  West,  in  his  book,  Race  Matters,  as: 

*  *  *  Primarily  a  question  of  speaking  to  the  profound  sense  of  psycho- 
logical depression,  personal  worthlessness,  and  social  despair  so  widespread 
in  black  America. 

To  Professor  West  the  nihilistic  thinking  in  the  inner  city  black  community  de- 

*  *  *  The  lived  experience  of  coping  with  a  life  of  horrifying  and  mean- 
ingless, hopelessness,  and  (most  important)  lovelessness.  The  frightening 
result  is  a  numbing  detachment  from  others  and  a  self-destructive  disposi- 
tion toward  the  world.  Life  without  meaning,  hope,  and  love  breeds  a  cold- 
hearted,  mean-spirited  outlook  that  destroys  both  the  individual  and  others, 
(pp.  14-15) 

Professor  West  offers  a  chilling  observation  on  the  effects  of  the  nihilistic  way  of 
thinking  on  the  black  community: 

*  *  *  It  must  be  recognized  that  the  nihilistic  threat  contributes  to  crimi- 
nal behavior.  It  is  a  threat  that  feeds  on  poverty  and  shattered  cultural  in- 
stitutions and  grows  more  powerful  as  the  armors  to  ward  against  it  are 
weakened,  (p.  16) 

The  sense  of  a  poverty  ridden,  meaningless  existence  devoid  of  hope  and  love  (all 
sociological  factors  for  the  growth  and  development  of  the  gang  culture)  coupled 
with  the  nihilistic  threat  of  the  inner  city  black  attitude  of  "not  giving  a  fuck  about 
anything;"  has  engendered  a  value  frequently  expressed  in  "gangster"  rap  lyrics  in 
terms  of,  "I'm  a  get  mine — NOW! "  The  effort  to  achieve  something  of  significance, 
something  that  will  elevate  them  out  of  the  depths  of  their  existence,  fuels  the  gang- 
ster reflex  for  immediate  gratification. 

Rap  magnate  and  impresario  Luther  Campbell,  of  the  controversial  group  2  Live 
Crew  he  has  stated  in  the  past.  "  *  *  *  if  people  would  just  take  these  rap  tapes 
and  analyze  them  they'd  find  out  what  makes  us  tick.")  touches  on  this  issue  in  his 
autobiography.  As  nasty  as  they  wanna  be: 

These  (inner  city)  kids  don't  put  any  more  value  on  human  life  than  soci- 
ety puts  on  theirs.  These  kids  have  got  no  hope  of  getting  the  fine  life  they 
see  on  T.V.  except  for  taking  it,  in  pieces,  for  themselves  *  *  *  if  they  want 
something  you  have,  they  shoot  you  and  take  it.  (p. 9) 

Someone  to  whom  a  flippant  remark  uttered  in  passing  was  worth  the 
price  of  a  human  life.  (p.  16) 

The  value  of  respect  goes  hand  in  hand  with  the  issue  of  self-esteem  in  the  life 
of  a  gang  member.  In  the  gang  code  of  ethics  the  issue  of  respect  is  non-negotiable. 
"To  get  it  you  must  give  it,  but  any  sign  of  disrespect  is  usually  met  with  violence. 
A  showing  of  disrespect  to  a  gang  member  is  considered  a  challenge,  a  threat,  to 
everything  he  holds  desir.  Those  things  include  his  reputation,  the  honor  of  his  gang, 
and  his  role  within  the  gang.  A  showing  of  disrespect  is  a  direct  challenge  to  the 
gang  member's  claim  of  self-identity — of  being  somebody. 

In  order  for  any  constructive  diedogue  on  the  rising  influence  of  the  gang  culture 
on  American  society  to  be  effective,  it  is  essential  that  the  gang  value  system  be 
understood.  This  vgdue  system  has  spread  beyond  the  confines  of  the  gang  environ- 
ment to  impact  the  general  population  of  teen  culture  in  this  country. 

Factors  affecting  the  spread  of  the  gang  culture  across  America 

The  serpentine  spread  of  the  gang  culture  across  America  can  be  attributed  to 
several  factors.  Among  them  are  (1)  family  considerations,  (2)  the  drug  trade,  and 
(3)  influence  from  the  entertainment  industry. 

(1)  The  gangster  attitude  is  not  one  of  genetic  inheritance,  but  rather  a  learned 
behavior.  Just  as  a  child  learns  patterns  of  social  behavior  and  attitude  on  the  basis 
of  the  environment  in  which  he  (or  she)  is  raised,  the  same  can  be  said  of  the  devel- 
opment of  gang  members. 

Gang  members  develop  their  knowledge  and  understanding  of  the  culture  through 
the  mentors  within  the  neighborhood  clique.  These  mentors — O.G.'s  (original  gang- 
sters) or  veteranos — school  the  neophyte  gang  member  into  the  creed,  the  code  of 
ethics,  which  governs  the  culture.  The  role  of  the  gang  mentor  is  to  properly  educate 
the  young  in  gang  values  so  as  to  insure  that  the  knowledge  transcends 
generational  Umitations  and  continues  the  tradition.  In  order  to  fully  comprehend 


the  development  of  the  gang  psyche,  the  nature  of  the  mentoring  process  must  first 
be  understood. 

Under  the  watchful  and  caring  eye  of  the  O.G.  mentor,  the  novice  gang  member 
will  be  educated  in  the  rudiments  of  the  gang  culture  and  lifestyle.  That  knowledge 
will  be  reinforced  over  and  over  again  by  fellow  members  of  the  clique,  each,  in  turn, 
imparting  his  particular  slant  to  the  understanding  of  the  lifestyle.  Over  time  this 
brand  of  peer  pressure  leaves  a  heavy  burden  on  the  shoulders  of  the  novice  mem- 
ber— a  burden  that  compels  compliance. 

This  indoctrination  process  leaves  an  indelible  print  on  the  mind  of  the  young,  im- 
pressionable gang  member.  The  adoption  of  the  mentoring  process  establishes  the 
O.G.  and  older,  more  established  peers  as  role  models.  This  acceptance  insures  the 
negative  characteristic  traits  and  values  which  govern  the  gangster  mentality  will 
become  the  "norm"  to  the  young  member. 

Under  this  setting  loving  parents,  concerned  about  the  safety  and  welfare  of  their 
children,  sent  them  out  of  their  gang  infested  neighborhoods  to  live  with  relatives 
across  the  country  in  what  were  presumed  to  be  "safe"  communities.  The  effort 
proved  futile  because  of  the  deep  saturation  of  the  gang  value  system  in  the  minds 
of  these  children.  As  a  result  a  malignant  social  cancer  was  simply  excised  from  one 
region  of  the  country  only  to  metastasize  in  another.  Thus  the  knowledge  and  un- 
derstanding of  gangs  was  passed  on  to  peers  in  the  new  communities  thereby  inflict- 
ing the  gang  culture  on  the  local  environment. 

In  conjunction  with  this  transference  of  knowledge  was  the  ready  acceptance  of 
local  youth  to  adopt  the  Blood/Crip  persona  as  their  own.  This  acceptance  was 
based,  in  part,  on  the  reputation  for  vicious  ruthlessness  amassed  over  the  years 
by  both  factions. 

(2)  Perhaps  no  single  factor  accounts  for  the  transcontinental  proliferation  of  the 
gang  culture  more  than  the  rise  in  the  drug  trade,  more  specifically  crack  or  rock 
cocaine.  Among  street  gang  criminal  enterprises,  the  one  long  dominated  by  the 
Bloods  and  Crips  of  south  central  L.A.  has  been  crack.  Successful  maneuvering  in 
the  crack  trade  has  created  entrepreneurs  out  of  those  individuals  previously  listed 
under  the  category  of  poor,  impoverished,  and  underclass.  The  flaunting  of  their 
new  found  wealth,  along  with  the  increased  levels  of  violence  that  routinely  accom- 
panies drug  transactions  led  to  intense  levels  of  scrutiny  by  law  enforcement  offi- 

In  response  to  police  crackdowns  on  their  distribution  of  crack,  Bloods  and  Crips 
fanned  out  across  the  country  to  establish  new  markets.  With  their  opening  of  new 
distribution  networks  a  new  element  of  concern  was  created  for  law  enforcement — 
the  appearance  of  new  Blood  and  Crip  gangs. 

The  creation  of  new  gangs  in  areas  which,  in  many  cases,  had  never  experienced 
a  threat  from  gang  activity  led  to  a  cycle  of  social  depravity  which  adversely  affected 
the  personality  and  lifestyle  of  the  impacted  community.  The  end  result  was  the  in- 
culcation of  the  gang  mentality  on  the  minds  of  local  youth,  the  establishment  of 
gang  rivalries  (which  in  many  cases  was  nothing  more  than  a  carry  over  of  tradi- 
tional rivalries  from  the  L.A.  environment,  except  it  now  involved  local  youth  far 
removed  from  the  origin  of  the  conflict),  a  dramatic  increase  in  the  level  of  violence, 
and  a  decline  in  the  character  of  the  community  (as  a  result  of  graffiti,  drug  dealing, 
and  gang  violence  resulting  from  that  dealing  and  transplanted  rivalries). 

The  pressure  the  police  brought  to  bear  on  this  social  disease  forced  the  gang 
member  turned  drug  entrepreneur  to  seek  new  markets  outside  of  California.  This 
effort  led  to  the  epidemic  rise  in  crack  use  around  the  country  and  the  appearance 
of  gangs  and  gang  violence  in  areas  previously  untouched  by  that  subculture. 

(3)  An  element  largely  ignored  when  discussing  the  spread  of  the  gang  culture 
throughout  the  country  has  been  the  influence  of  the  entertainment  industry. 
Through  its  various  mediums — most  notably  movies,  "gangster"  rap  music,  and 
more  recently  comic  books — the  culture  of  the  inner  city  environment  and  the  gang 
mentality  and  value  system  has  infused  itself  on  the  youthful  landscape  of  American 
society.  The  field  of  entertainment  has  made  palatable  the  mentality,  lifestyle,  and 
value  system  of  the  inner  city  environment  and  its  gang  inspired  subculture.  It  has 
allowed  white,  middle  class,  mainstream,  suburban  and  rural  youth — who  are 
among  the  most  avid  fans  of  this  genre  of  entertainment — to  experience  a  vicarious 
dose  of  inner  city/gangster  reality  with  its  element  of  excitement  and  sexuaUty 
fraught  with  danger. 

These  forms  of  adolescent  entertainment  serve  to  educate  its  young  and  impres- 
sionable audience  to  the  gang  values  of  respect,  being  "down"  for  the  gang,  dem- 
onstration of  manhood  or  "machismo."  displays  of  the  psychotic/psychopathic  atti- 
tude of  "wild  craziness,"  and  loyalty.  The  cultural  attitude  and  ideology  of  the  inner 
city  is  reflected  in  the  sexually  explicit  and  violently  graphic  references  of  misogyny 
(women  are  "bitches,  whores,  or  sluts"  who  exist  for  the  sexual  gratification  of  men 


and  are  frequently  assaulted  or  killed  for  failing  to  live  up  to  the  man's  desire  and 
need)  and  young  inner  city  males  who  nonchalantly  murder  those  who  fall  under 
their  wrath. 

This  form  of  entertainment  makes  sport  of  killing  and  the  non-consensual  sexual 
violation  of  women.  It  educates  by  celebrating  the  glorified  image  of  the  rebeUious 
outlaw  in  the  90's,  personified  in  the  form  of  the  inner  city  gang  member.  It  is  a 
fantasy  junket  of  racial  and  sexual  victimization  and/or  domination,  ego  enhance- 
inent,  greed,  violent  aggression,  substance  abuse,  and  anarchy.  It  reinforces  the  ni- 
hilistic vision  of  the  young  black  inner  city  male.  It  portrays  the  mainstream  per- 
spective on  success  and  lifestyle  "normalcy"  as  negative  and  inferior  to  the  inner  city 

The  characters  portraved  and  the  artists  who  created  them  (especially  in  the 
"gangster"  rap  music  industry)  have  become  role  models  for  the  young  to  emulate. 
The  success  of  these  "anti-heroes"  has  fostered  definitive  influences  in  terms  of  lan- 
guage and  fashion  (clothing,  jewelry,  etc.).  "Gangster  chic"  has  thus  become  a  popu- 
lar aspect  of  today's  youth  environment. 

A  troubling  aspect  of  the  gang  mentality  and  value  system  which  should  be  of  con- 
cern to  the  nation  is  the  propensity  to  employ  violence  as  THE  means  of  conflict 
resolution.  The  violence  generally  involves  the  use  of  weapons  with  guns  being  the 
weapon  of  choice. 

As  the  gang  mentality  and  value  system  further  infuses  itself  in  the  minds  of 
America's  youth,  the  violence  level  will  increase,  and  with  this  increase  the  desire 
to  "pick  up  the  gun"  will  become  greater.  This  desire  should  be  well  understood  by 
all  concerned  about  the  increasing  influence  and  fusion  of  the  gang  culture  on  popu- 
lar youth  culture. 

The  fear  factor  which  accompanies  gang  involved  acts  of  directed  community  ter- 
rorism has  prompted  a  seemingly  endless  stream  of  reactionary  acts  of  violence. 
Most  notable  among  these  has  been  the  willingness  of  students  to  carry  guns  on 
school  premises,  supposedly  for  protection  against  bullying  gang  members.  In  many 
cases  guns  are  displayed  in  the  midst  of  school  social  life  with  the  stated  intent  to 
use  them — if  necessary. 

In  the  youth  culture  of  the  90's  it  is  about  having  a  gun,  using  a  gun.  It  is  not 
about  setthng  disputes  with  fists.  Guns  are  the  great  equalizer.  If  the  youthful  gang 
meinber  has  a  gun  and  is  eager  to  develop  or  enhance  a  reputation  he  will  willingly 
use  it  against  those  who  would  challenge  him.  To  the  gang  member  or  those  victim- 
ized by  gangs,  having  a  gun  is  equated  with  a  sense  of  excitement,  power,  safety, 
a  means  of  contact  resolution,  a  means  of  salvaging  one's  pride,  and  a  means  of 
achieving  a  sense  of  honor,  respect,  and  self-esteem. 

This  "cult  of  the  gun"  is  fueled  by  the  impact  of  the  popularity  of  "gangster"  rap 
music  which  promotes  this  ideal  among  the  nation's  youth.  A  small  sampling  of  the 
explosion  of  this  ideal  reflected  in  music  reveals  the  following: 

1.  Freedom  got  an  A-K 

An  A-K  talks  and  bullshit  runs 

I  wish  I  had  time  to  count  all  my  guns 

'Cause  a  nigga  is  runnin'  out  of  funds 

But  H.  Rap  said  freedom  got  a  strap 

I  wish  I  was  in  dixie  A-K,  A-K 

And  shit  wouldn't  a  been  bad  in  the  60's 

No  way,  no  way  *  *  * 

I'll  share  17  times 

'Cause  this  week  we  don't  turn  the  other  cheek 

Do  that  shit  and  get  strolled  on 

Non-violence  gotta  hold  on,  plus  we  gotta  roll  on 

The  mayor  and  the  whole  fuckin'  city  *  *  * 

So  get  the  fuck  out  the  way  when  I  spray 

Hey,  freedom  got  an  A-K 

2.  Pass  the  gat 

Pass  me  the  gat 

I  gotta  fight  back 

I  ain't  rollin'  over  on  my  motherfucking  back, 

Pass  me  the  gat 

I  gotta  stay  strapped 

I  ain't  rollin  over  on  my  motherfucking  back 

3.  Bonnie  &  Clyde  Theme 

It's  a  man's  world 


But  check  the  girl 

With  a  MAC- 11,  187  *  *  * 

I'm  the  type  of  girl  that's  down  for  my  nigga 

I'll  lie  for  my  nigga,  peel  a  cap  for  my  nigga  *  *  * 

What  they  don't  know  won't  hurt 

They  searchin'  on  him  I  got  the  gat  in  my  skirt  *  *  * 

Let  him  think  he's  gettiir  over  while  I  gank  him  for  his  ^ 

Robbin',  stealin',  kiUin'  at  will  *  *  * 

Hittin'  with  the  wicked  shit 

I  like  to  dick  a  chick,  but  now  I'm  robbin'  quick  and  split  *  *  * 

4.  .380  on  that  ass 

*  *  *  I'm  sick  as  fuck  I'll  do  a  drive-by  in  a  black  hearse 
And  leave  you  in  the  street  for  homicide  up  to  .380  bursts 
187  on  an  undercover  p-i-g 

They  better  duck  when  they  see  the  chrome  .380  *  *  * 

The  bullet  fucked  ya  when  i  bucked  ya  it  was  instant  death  *  *  * 

.380  on  that  ass,  bitch 

Blast  the  .380 

Niggas  look  crazy  *  *  * 

So  now  I  gotta  smile 

Then  pow-pow-pow-pow-pow 

Then  buck  with  that  .380  till  the  motherfucker  drop  *  *  * 

I'm  ready  to  kill  a  nigga  quicker  ready  to  kill  a  nigga 

187  ways  to  heaven  when  I  drill  a  nigga  *  *  * 

Your  ass  is  drippin'  'cause  that  nina  gave  that  ass  a  whippin'  *  *  * 

I'll  grab  your  heart  and  squeeze  the  motherfucker  till  it  burst 

Ana  tie  your  corpse  to  the  bumper  of  my  homie's  hearse 

I  pack  a  9(mm)  but,  yo,  i'm  down  to  pack  a  3-8-0 

And  pump  some  motherfuckin'  slugs  up  in  your  anus  hole 

The  cartel's  full  of  killers 

.380  on  that  asshole,  nigga 

5.  Reign  of  the  TEC(9) 

It's  the  hard  little  pistol  packin'  punk  dope  smuggler 

Lethal  when  I  kill  I  go  straight  for  the  jugular  +  *  * 

Shit  gets  out  of  hand  I  gotta  TEC  in  the  trunk  *  *  * 

Now  I'm  on  a  rampage  prepare  for  the  slaughter 

Lyrical  monster  bustin'  nuts  in  your  daughter  *  *  * 

Bullet  proof,  ready  for  action,  no  frontin' 

Fully  loaded  TEC,  chump,  ready  to  go  huntin'  *  *  * 

Die,  don't  give  me  no  hassle 

I'll  snatch  up  your  bitch  take  her  to  white  castle 

Then  crack  her  asshole  *  *  * 

Carjackin'  punks,  pullin'  'em  out  the  pathfinders  *  *  * 

Come  on  bro'  don't  give  me  that  shit 

Blast  my  9  to  your  spine  take  your  money  then  split  *  *  * 

I'll  shoot  you  with  no  problems,  I'm  use  to  shootin'  cops  *  *  * 

I'll  let  you  go  this  time  but  next  time  you  pop  that  shit  your  ass  gotta  drop 

*  *  * 

It's  the  gun  slingin'  lunatics  demons  out  of  hell  *   *  * 
Low  key,  deadly  takin'  out  all  suckers 
Before  you  even  step  and  try  to  play  me  son 
Bring  heavy  ammunition  so  you  don't  have  to  run 
Take  heed  this  ain't  somethin'  you  should  laugh  to 
Yo,  I'll  shoot  your  moms  if  I  have  to  *  *  * 

6.  Head  or  gut 

Head  or  gut,  where  you  want  it,  head  or  gut,  pop-pop 

I  asked  you  how  you  want  it,  where  you  want  it,  head  or  gut 

As  I  cold  rip  shit,  niggas  wanna  talk  shit 

But  it's  a  clip  that  goes  up  in  the  9,  A  double  'M',  bitch 

So  if  you  readly  wanna  throw,  nigga  *  *  * 

WelL  I  gotta  new  tool  to  go  boom-boom,  now  you're  outta  here 

I  may  be  dumb,  but  I'm  quick  to  smoke  a  nigga  *  *  * 

I'll  rob  your  ass  and  then  I'll  ask  you  head  or  gut  *  *  * 

7.  Dumpin'  'em  in  ditches 

Rat  to  the  motherfuckin'  tat  is  how  I  stalk  this  *  *  * 


I  do  a  187  with  this  motherfuckin'  glock 

Shot  you  in  the  body 

Had  to  break  the  gat  off  in  his  ass  at  the  party,  nigga 

Crazy  as  fuck  I  thought  you  knew  me 

Keep  the  clip  of  bullets  up  in  the  motherfuckin'  Uzi,  bitch 

A  O.G.  nigga  so  I  gotta  g-o,  and  creep  slow 

And  get  this  nigga  while  he's  steppin'  out  his  car  door 

Bust,  bang,  I  let  my  nuts  hang 

Shoot  out  my  mustang 

And  let  this  motherfuckin'  Gat  sing  *  *  * 

8.  A  nigga  wit  a  gun 

See  I  never  take  a  step  on  the  compton  block 

Or  L.A.  without  the  A-K  ready  to  pop  *  *  * 

'Cause  for  you  to  survive  a  nigga  gotta  be  a  gangster  *  *  * 

Four-four,  trey-eight,  or  AK-47 

'Cause  slowly  but  surely  send  you  on  the  stairway  to  heaven 

Just  put  my  finger  on  the  trigga  and  pull  back 

And  lay  a  punk  motherfucker  flat  *  ♦  * 

I  breaks  'em  off  but  I  ain't  speakin'  about  between  the  thighs 

I'm  talkin'  about  cockin'  a  guage  in  between  your  eyes 

And  make  you  drop  to  your  knees  'cause  you  realize 

That  a  Gat  11  make  any  nigga  civilized  *  *  * 

And  if  motherfuckers  come  at  me  wrong 

I'll  straight  put  my  44  desert  eagle  to  his  motherfuckin'  dome 

And  show  him  why  they  call  me  the  notorious  one 

The  name  is  Dre  Eastwood  when  I'm  packin'  a  gun 

Gangster  rap:  to  defend  or  condemn  ? 

The  aspects  of  the  gang  culture  discussed  throughout  this  testimony  are  all  incor- 
porated in  the  lyrics  of  "gangster"  rap  music.  The  correlation  between  the  gang  cul- 
ture and  its  reflection  in  the  music  is  not  accidental.  Many  of  the  more  prominent 
"gangster"  rappers  currently  in  vogue  were  (some  would  argue  they  still  are)  active 
participants  in  the  gang  lifestyle.  Others  were  passive  in  their  involvement — passive 
in  the  sense  that  thev  grew  up  amid  the  environment  of  the  gang  culture  and  were 
obviously  influenced  by  that  experience,  but  were  otherwise  not  involved  in  the  life- 

As  a  music  phenomenon,  the  seeds  of  which  were  planted  in  the  mid-80's,  blos- 
somed towards  the  end  of  the  decade,  and  reached  fuU  maturity  in  the  90's;  "gang- 
ster" rap  is  central  to  a  powerful,  albeit  unorganized,  cultural  movement.  That 
movement — "RAPITIVISM" — is  a  form  of  social  activism  which  uses  rap  music  as 
a  tool  to  bring  about  change  in  the  system.  The  raptivist  nature  of  "gangster"  rap 
is  indicative  of  a  heightened  social  consciousness  in  the  inner  city  black  community, 
a  consciousness  based  on  an  Afrocentric  perspective  on  Ufe  coupled  with  a  sense  of 
community  empowerment.  In  this  vein  "gangster"  rap  is  nothing  more  than  a  tool 
to  reach  the  masses.  It  arouses  the  raging  anger  in  the  inner  city  community,  while 
educating  those  outside  of  the  community  as  to  the  social  conditions  which  created 
that  rage. 

"Gangster"  rappers  view  themselves  as  "reporters  from  the  street."  To  their  way 
of  thinking  their  lyrics  paint  a  vivid  picture  of  the  day-to-day  reahty  of  their  social 
existence.  That  portrayal  begs  an  answer  to  the  eternal  question,  "\\Tiich  came  first, 
the  chicken  or  the  egg?  " 

Did  the  existence  of  inner  city  violence  and  sexuaUty  create  "gangster"  rap;  or 
does  gangster"  rap  merely  reflect  inner  city  violence  and  sexuality?  The  social  condi- 
tions of  that  environment  existed  long  before  anyone  ever  conceived  of  an  "art"  form 
known  as  "gangster"  rap  music.  The  social  conditions  reflected  in  "gangster"  rap 
music  may,  indeed,  be  based  on  the  circumstances  of  the  day-to-day  existence  of  the 
rappers  themselves;  but  not  the  greater  society-at-large.  Though  it  does  not  reflect 
the  general  makeup  of  mainstream  society,  the  popularity  of  the  music,  its  avid  ac- 
ceptance on  the  part  of  white  middle  class — mainstream — youth,  will  allow  the  mes- 
sage to  be  received  by  them  and,  in  turn,  reinforce  the  stereotype  and  image  of  the 
inner  city  cultural  environment.  Over  time  the  continued  acceptance  and  reinforce- 
ment of  the  message  will  take  root  and  lead  to  the  creation  of  the  attitude  and  envi- 
ronment conveyed  in  the  lyrics.  The  attitude  and  environment  then  lead  to  the  cre- 
ation of  more  songs  which,  in  turn,  leads  to  the  reinforcement  of  the  attitude  and 
environment,  ad  infinitum,  until  something  or  someone  intervenes  to  break  the 
cycle.  An  argument  can  be  made  that  the  drug  culture  of  the  60's  took  shape  in  this 
fashion  by  music  reflecting  the  youthful  countercultural  lifestyle  of  Haight  Ashbury, 


et  al.,  which  was  then  reinforced  by  that  lifestyle  and  subsequently  transmitted 
throughout  the  country  via  the  music.  In  essence  this  is  the  basis  for  some  of  the 
development  of  the  gang  culture  in  metropolitan  Salt  Lake  City  and  other 
"nonstereotypical"  communities  experiencing  a  gang  problem. 

The  rappers,  through  the  hard  hitting,  gut  stabbing,  caustic  delivery  of  their  mes- 
sage, have  forced  an  otherwise  seemingly  unconcerned  American  public  to  stand  up 
and  take  notice  of  the  world  and  social  forces  which  nurtured  them.  Their  music, 
in  many  ways  reflects  that  nurturing.  It  is  the  basic  nature  of  those  social  forces 
that  should  force  all  concerned  and  frightened  Americans  to  pause  and  reflect  on 
what  we,  as  a  nation,  have  brought  upon  ourselves. 

Are  the  young  people  creating  this  music  guilty  of  promoting  violence,  racism, 
sexism,  misogyny,  and  xenophobic  intolerance?  It  could  easily  be  ar^ed  that  yes 
they  are.  But  it  could  equally  be  argued  that  they  are  not  promoting  it,  but  merely 
as  products  of  such  a  world,  reflecting  it.  As  "creative  artists,"  these  rappers  are 
merely  doing  what  "creative  artists"  in  other  genres  have  done — writing  about  that 
which  they  know. 

Any  creative  writing  class  in  any  college  or  university  in  America  will  teach  that 
an  artist  should  draw  upon  their  personal  knowledge  and  experiences  in  the  process 
of  tapping  their  creative  juices.  Former  Los  Angeles  Police  Officer  turned  best  sell- 
ing author  Joseph  Wambaugh  drew  upon  his  knowledge  of  the  law  enforcement  pro- 
fession to  create  a  hodgepodge  of  wacky,  confused,  and  oftentimes  troubled  char- 
acters to  achieve  his  version  of  the  American  Dream.  His  success  led  him  from  the 
position  of  police  sergeant  to  best  selling  author  to  screenplay  writer  to  television 

"Gangster"  rappers,  on  the  other  hand,  draw  on  the  frightening,  pragmatic  vio- 
lence and  sexuality  of  their  world  to  weave  their  tales  of  "life  in  the  hood."  They 
have  escaped  the  physical  confines  of  that  world  to  achieve  their  version  of  the 
American  Dream.  Their  success  has  led  them  from  the  position  of  top  selling  record- 
ing artists  to  record  producers  to  owners  of  their  own  recording  labels.  At  each  step 
along  the  way  they  have  not  only  elevated  their  social  status  in  the  high  stakes 
world  of  the  recording  industry,  but  have  also  assumed  loftier  heights  as  role  models 
to  the  youth  of  America. 

As  role  models  the  "gangster"  rappers  are  idolized  by  their  more  youthful  listeners 
(some  "gangster"  rappers  have  described  their  listening  audience  as  being  between 
the  ages  of  8-28)  and  as  such  are  in  the  position  of  influencing  behavior.  If  in  their 
position  as  idols  and  role  models  to  young  impressionable  minds  they  repeatedly  in- 
ject anti-social,  racially  motivated,  sexually  explicit  messages  to  their  listeners  in 
the  form  of,  "Fuck  the  police,"  "You  can't  fuck  with  a  nigga,"  or  "Bitches  ain't  shit 
but  tramps  and  tricks"  (all  lines  from  "gangster"  rap  songs),  is  it  unreasonable  to 
assume  the  seeds  they  plant  will  not  eventually  take  root?  If  the  mind-set,  as  a  re- 
sult of  environmental  stimuli  (such  as  the  graphic  depiction  of  inner  city  living  por- 
trayed in  "gangster"  rap  Ijoics),  is  already  fixed  on  a  certain  attitude  or  demeanor, 
could  it  not  be  reinforced  by  a  social  consciousness  rooted  in  the  music  preferred 
by  a  large  segment  of  youthful  society?  Is  it  unreasonable  to  think  that  "gangster" 
rap  can  be  used  to  sell  a  particular  ideology? 

Major  advertising  firms  spend  countless  millions  of  dollars  developing  ad  cam- 
paigns targeting  particular  products.  Among  their  strategies  are  catchy  phrases 
with  musical  accompaniment,  and  the  use  of  high  profile  celebrities  (actors,  athletes, 
&  recording  artists) — role  models — as  spokespersons.  These  celebrity  endorsers  are 
paid  multi-millions  of  dollars  in  the  belief  that  their  endorsement  of  a  product  will 
boost  sales.  If  top  advertising  firms  spend  such  quantities  of  money  on  the  premise 
that  celebrity  endorsement  will  increase  the  acceptability  of  a  product  by  consumers, 
can  the  same  not  be  expected  of  "gangster"  rap  endorsement  of  the  product  of 
human  anger,  misery,  frustration,  and  despair? 

As  concerned  citizens  we  want  to  point  the  finger  of  blame  at  the  "gangster"  rap 
community  and,  in  particular,  the  rappers  themselves,  for  creating  a  society  that 
has  become  ruled  by  the  gun.  We  want  to  blame  the  "gangster"  rappers  for  the  ter- 
ror that  fills  the  eyes  of  a  child  at  the  sound  of  loud  report.  We  want  to  blame  the 
"gangster"  rappers  for  all  the  death  and  destruction,  pain  and  anguish  which  has 
come  to  fill  our  lives  and  dominates  how  we  relate  to  our  environment.  We  yell  for 
"banning,"  and  "censoring,"  and  even  call  for  "stomp-ins"  (the  organized  demonstra- 
tion against  "gangster"  rap  music  by  stomping— destroying — CD's  and  cassette 
tapes).  Some  naysayers  against  the  music  who  have  maintained  silence  on  the  sub- 
ject because  it  was  not  the  "politically  correct"  thing  to  do,  have  suddenly  found 
their  voices  now  that  the  subject  is  in  the  public  eye  and  call  for  the  "boycott"  of 
radio  stations  and  businesses  supporting  the  "gangster"  rap  message. 

As  a  career  law  enforcement  officer  I  am  deeply  angered  by  the  anti-cop  themes 
in  "gangster"  rap  music.  As  a  black  American  of  African  descent,  none  of  the  women 


over  the  course  of  my  life  who  nurtured  me  and  made  me  into  the  person  that  I 
am  today  were  "bitches,  whores,  or  sluts."  I,  Uke  a  lot  of  my  generation,  was  raised 
to  reject  anv  use  of  the  hated  pejorative  "nigger"  being  used  in  reference  to  me  as 
a  person.  Black  America,  as  a  proud  race  of  people,  spent,  literally,  centuries  going 
from  being  nigger  to  colored  to  Negro  to  black  to  African-American;  only  to  be  re- 
duced to  being  a  "nigger"  again  in  the  scope  of  a  single  generation,  not  as  a  result 
of  white  racism,  but  through  the  force  of  our  own  people  as  a  result  of  "gangster" 
rap  music. 

Yes,  I  am  angered  and  concerned  by  this  music  but  I  have  also  learned  to  under- 
stand the  basic  nature  behind  the  rage  which  fuels  the  lyrical  creativity  of  the  rap- 
pers. I  have  experienced  the  hurt  and  pain  of  racism  that  they  describe  in  their 
music  (though  I  believe  that  a  vast  majority  of  their  message  in  this  regard  and  in 
regards  to  sexuality  issues  is  exaggerated)  and  can  relate  to  what  they  are  saying. 
I  do  not  necessarily  like  the  manner  in  which  they  are  expressing  their  hurt  and 
pain,  but  I  do  understand  why  they  say  it  and  the  manner  in  which  it  is  said. 

Should  we  as  a  society  censor  or  ban  "gangster"  rap  music  because  of  the  content 
and  delivery  of  its  message?  This  music  was  started  by  inner  city  black  kids  for 
inner  city  black  kids.  It  began  as  an  underground  music  and  was  never  intended 
to  crossover  to  the  mainstream.  When  the  music  was  confined  to  the  inner  cities, 
polluting,  as  it  were,  the  minds  of  those  children  caught  up  in  a  social  despair  and 
depravity  not  of  their  making,  where  were  the  naysayers  to  speak  out  against  its 
harmful  effects? 

To  the  "gangster"  rap  community  this  is  just  another  example  of  overt  white 
mainstream  racism.  When  the  music  was  confined  to  the  inner  cities  no  one  raised 
a  hue  and  cry  over  its  negative  impact  to  the  children  in  those  communities.  It  has 
only  been  since  the  music  has  reached  a  wider  listening  audience  (i.e.;  white,  middle 
class,  mainstream,  suburbian  American  youth)  that  calls  for  banning  and/or  censor- 
ing it  have  wrung  out.  It  is  ironic  that  so-called  national  spokespersons  for  Black 
America  are  leading  the  charge  in  this  direction. 

The  "gangster"  rap  community  feels  that  they  are  being  singled  out  for  this  dis- 
criminatory action  because  they  are  black  (regardless  of  the  caustic  and  inflam- 
matory tone  of  their  language).  They  ask  why  no  attempts  have  ever  been  made  to 
ban  and/or  censor  other  forms  of  inflammatory,  though  popular,  music?  Take,  for  ex- 
ample, country  music.  In  a  February,  1994  airticle  in  Request  Magazine  (a  music  in- 
dustry trade  publication)  titled,  "Gangsta  Country;"  the  author  cites  the  following 
examples  of  country  lyrics  with  a  violent  imagery  similar  to  that  of  "gangster"  rap 
and  offers  the  premise  that  country  star  Johnny  Cash  might  be  the  lyrical  God- 
father to  current  "gangster"  rap  star  Snoop  Doggy  Dogg: 

Early  one  morning  whUe  i'm  makin'  the  rounds 

I  took  a  shot  of  cocaine  and  shot  my  woman  down 

I  went  right  home  and  I  went  to  bed 

I  stuck  a  lovin'.44  under  my  head  *  *  * 

The  judge  he  smiled  as  he  picked  up  his  pen 

99  years  in  the  folsom  pen 

99  years  underneath  I  cried 

I  can't  forgetthe  day  I  shot  that  bad  bitch  down 

(196&— "Cocaine  Blues"  by  Johnny  Cash) 

And  as  she  stood  there  at  all  dressed  in  her  gown  of  white 

They  kissed  each  other  and  they  turned  around  and  they  saw  me  standing 

in  the  aisle 

Well  I  did  not  say  much 

I  just  stood  there  watching  as  that  .45  told  them  goodbye 

(1987— "L. A.  County"  by  Lyle  Lovett) 

You  better  close  your  face  and  stay  outta  my  way  if  you  don't 

Want  to  go  to  fist  city 

You  better  detour  around  my  town  'cause  I'll  grab  you  by  the  hair  of  the 

head  and  I'll  lift  you  off  the  ground 

You  better  layoff  my  man  if  you  don't  wan't  to  go  to  fist  city 

(1968— "Fist  City"  by  Loretta  Lynn) 

So  in  the  final  analysis  should  we  as  a  nation  be  concerned  about  "gangster"  rap 
music?  Should  we  be  angered  bv  the  effect  it  may  be  having  on  a  generation  of 
American  youth — lost  and  abandoned  by  a  system  that  has,  in  many  respects,  ig- 
nored them  and  their  plight?  Should  we  vent  our  wrath  at  the  young  men  and 
women  who  are  using  this  vehicle  as  a  means  to  escape  the  frustrated  sense  of  hope- 


lessness  of  their  social  condition  (though  they  have  used  the  context  of  that  condi- 
tion to  upgrade  their  quality  of  life)? 

I  feel  that  the  concern  is  warranted,  but  should  be  properly  channeled.  Rap  music 
is  a  powerful  force  in  the  America  of  the  90's.  Just  as  we,  as  a  nation,  recently  elect- 
ed the  first  member  of  the  Baby  Boom  generation  to  the  office  of  President.  It  is 
not  too  far  in  the  distant  future  that  members  of  the  Hip-Hop  (rap)  Nation  will  be 
eligible  for  high  elective  office.  We  must  try  to  reign  in  the  forces  of  the  rap  commu- 
nity, rather  than  keep  them  at  arms  length.  We  must  embrace  these  young  artists 
by  bringing  them  into  the  fold  of  mainstream  America.  We  must  learn  to  use  the 
power  of  their  voices  in  a  way  that  can  enhance  and  improve  on  the  quality  of  life 
ror  all,  but  especially  for  those  forced  to  exist  in  the  depressed  squalor  of  the  inner 
cities.  We  must  reach  out  to  insure  them  their  franchisement,  their  place,  in  Amer- 
ican society.  We  must  meet  on  common  ground,  merging  their  financial  means  with 
the  power  of  government  support,  to  reinvest  in  the  future  of  our  children. 

Our  young  people  feel  lost  and  abandoned  by  a  system,  they  feel,  does  not  care 
about  them  and  their  needs.  They  are  hurting — physically,  but  more  important, 
emotionally.  They  have  become  Jaded  by  the  strain  of  growing  up  in  the  depression 
of  the  inner  city  environment.  They  are  frightened,  frustrated,  and  angry;  but  have 
had  a  difficult  time  finding  their  voice  to  put  a  name  to  their  feeling  of  hopelessness. 
Rap  music,  and  especially  "gangster"  rap  music  has  given  them  that  voice  and  al- 
lowed them  to  name  that  which  is  causing  their  pain. 

If  we,  as  a  nation,  must  vent  anger  at  the  message  and  tone  of  "gangster"  rap 
music,  let  it  not  be  directed  at  the  artists.  In  this  I  am  somewhat  unique  among 
my  law  enforcement  colleagues  in  that  I  don't  call  for  the  heads  of  the  rappers  on 
a  silver  platter  because  of  their  anti-cop  themes.  Our  anger,  if  it  must  be  shown, 
should  be  directed  at  the  executives  of  the  music  industry,  those  powerful  few  who 
made  it  feasible  for  the  violent,  racist,  sexist  imagery  of  "gangster"  rap  to  become 
the  veritable  gold  mine  that  is  has.  Without  their  financial  support  along  the  way 
there  might  not  have  been  a  Snoop  Doggy  Dogg,  Dr.  Dre,  Ice-T,  N.W.A.,  Ice  Cube, 
Eazy-E,  et  al. 


As  the  gang  culture  becomes  more  rooted  in  the  fabric  of  society  we  must  come 
together  in  our  philosophy  on  how  to  best  address  the  issue.  In  that  vein  I  feel  it 
would  be  appropriate  for  the  federal  government  to  take  a  more  hands  on  involve- 
ment in  dealing  with  the  gang  issue.  As  suggested  by  Sgt.  Wes  McBride  of  the  Los 
Angeles  County  Sheriff's  Department,  a  nationally  reknowned  authority  on  the  gang 
culture  with  over  20  years  experience  in  the  arena  and  the  co-author  of  a  widely 
used  text,  Understanding  Street  Gangs,  the  federal  government  should  explore  the 
creation  of  a  "National  Gang  Committee."  This  committee  would  bring  together  se- 
lect gang  officers  from  throughout  the  nation  on  an  annual  or  semi-annual  basis  to 
discuss  gang  issues,  plot  strategy,  exchange  information  on  new  trends  of  develop- 
ment in  the  gang  environment,  et  al.  Such  a  committee  could  develop  a  "National 
Gang  Training  Program"  (funded  by  the  federal  government)  which  would  establish 
a  national  curriculum  of  basic  and  advanced  training  on  the  criminology,  methodol- 
ogy, and  sociology  of  the  gang  cultural  environment.  In  this  way  gang  investigators 
throughout  the  nation  will  all  be  working  from  the  same  page,  so  to  speak. 

Among  federal  agencies  the  Treasury  Department's  Bureau  of  Alcohol,  Tobacco, 
&  Firearms  has  taken  a  lead  role  in  working  with  local  and  state  officials  on  the 
gang  issue.  Though  much  maligned  and  inaccurately  portrayed  in  the  media  re- 
cently, the  A.T.F.,  as  a  collective  group  of  professional  law  enforcement  officials  and 
{)erhaps  more  than  another  federal  law  enforcement  agency,  has  the  support  of  their 
ocal  and  state  counterparts.  Since  1992  the  A.T.F.  has  co-sponsored  National  Gang 
Conferences  on  both  coasts  that  has  brought  together  gang  investigators  and  other 
professionals  in  a  convivial  atmosphere  of  learning  and  fellowship. 

In  the  area  of  training  the  federal  government  should  continue  their  support  of 
the  RISS  (Regional  Information  Sharing  Systems)  Programs.  One  such  program, 
MAGLOCLEN  (Middle  Atlantic-Great  Lakes  Organized  Crime  Law  Enforcement 
Network),  has  co-sponsored  (with  A.T.F.)  the  National  Gang  Conference  and  other 
such  training  for  the  eastern  law  enforcement  establishment.  The  training  programs 
put  on  by  MAGLOCLEN  are  unparalled  in  the  quality  of  their  professionalism. 

The  federal  Weed  &  Seed  program  administered  under  the  auspices  of  the  Depart- 
ment of  Justice  should  continue  with  one  minor  improvement.  "The  funding  should 
be  allocated  to  select  areas  on  a  need  basis  rather  than  on  the  political  climate  of 
the  impacted  neighborhood.  A  particular  case  comes  to  mind  in  the  Salt  Lake  City 
metropolitan  area  in  which  two  equally  needy  areas  were  considered  to  receive 
Weed  &  Seed  money  and  one  area  was  tihe  sole  recipient.  The  criteria  from  all  indi- 


cations,  was  based  on  the  fact  that  the  area  which  was  denied  consisted  primarily 
of  a  low  income  transient  population  while  the  recipient  area  consisted  of  a  more 
stable  group  of  home  owning  citizens.  The  federal  government  should  also  consider 
some  form  of  subsidy  for  proven  intervention  &  prevention  programs  which  are 
making  a  difference  in  the  lives  of  troubled  youth.  The  Neighborhood  Housing  Serv- 
ices in  Salt  Lake  City  and  the  California  Police  Activities  League,  based  in  Oakland, 
are  two  good  examples  of  programs  making  a  difference. 

Neighborhood  Housing  Services  takes  troubled  youth  and  puts  them  in  a  construc- 
tion program  renovating  and,  in  some  cases,  building  houses.  They  work  under  the 
guidance  of  trained  professionals  in  the  construction  industry  and  are  paid  a  salary 
just  above  the  minimum  wage  standard.  These  young  people  are  required  to  main- 
tain a  'C  average  in  school  and  stay  out  of  trouble  with  the  law  in  order  to  be  par- 
ticipants in  the  program.  Over  time,  some  will  achieve  a  level  of  advancement,  such 
as  Peer  Leader.  In  this  way  they  learn  responsibihty  and  sociahzation  skills.  If  they 
successfully  complete  the  program  (6  months  in  length)  and  reach  the  Peer  Leader 
level  they  are  placed  in  internship  programs  with  businesses  and  organizations 
throughout  the  area. 

The  California  Police  Activities  League  (Cal  Pal)  is  designed  to  help  bridge  the 
gap  between  police  officers  and  the  community  they  serve.  To  quote  from  their 
Handbook,  "  *  *  *  it  is  a  youth  crime  prevention  program  that  relies  on  educational, 
athletic,  and  other  recreational  activities  to  cement  a  bond  between  police  officers 
and  the  youth."  Cal  Pal  is  based  on  the  conviction  that  young  persons — if  they  are 
reached  early  enough — can  develop  strong,  positive  attitudes  towards  police  officers 
in  their  journey  through  Hfe  toward  the  goal  of  maturity  and  good  citizenship.  It 
promotes  trust  and  understanding  between  youth  and  police  officers. 

All  of  these  areas  cited  show  the  national  flavor  of  the  law  enforcement/commu- 
nity bonding  necessary  to  impact  the  rising  tide  in  gangs  and  gang  violence.  The 
individuals  involved  in  programs  such  as  these  are  the  true  heroes  in  the  battle  to 
reclaim  our  pride  and  conviction  in  the  belief  that  America  is  truly  a  land  of  oppor- 
tunity and  vision.  We  must  take  steps — NOW — to  impart  that  vision  to  our  youth 
if  we  are  to  rise  from  the  abyss  brought  on  by  youth  violence. 

Thank  you  very  much. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Thank  you,  Sergeant  Stallworth. 
Mr.  James,  welcome,  and  we  look  forward  to  your  testimony  as 


Mr.  D.  James.  Thank  you,  Senator  Moseley-Braun,  Senator 
Cohen,  and  the  Senate  Juvenile  Justice  Subcommittee.  By  way  of 
introduction,  my  name  is  Darryl  James.  I  am  the  founder,  editor- 
in-chief  and  currently  one  of  the  owners  of  Rap  Sheet,  a  monthly 
newspaper  dedicated  to  the  art  form  and  its  artists. 

Rap  music  is  being  convicted  for  the  alleged  crimes  of  a  handful 
of  rap  artists  who  are  using  what  is  perhaps  the  only  vehicle  that 
they  possess  to  express  frustration  about  their  environment.  So  be- 
fore I  deliver  what  I  believe  to  be  adequate  defense  of  an  art  form 
and  the  people  for  which  it  speaks,  I  must  urge  all  involved  to  ex- 
amine the  entire  spectrum  of  this  problem  by  viewing  rap  music  in 
an  historical  perspective. 

Art,  especially  musical  art,  has  always  been  an  expression  of  the 
frustrations  of  a  people,  particularly  African  Americans  in  this  Na- 
tion. That  was  manifest  in  the  gospel  that  the  slaves  used  which 
evolved  into  jazz,  rock  and  roll,  soul  and  R&B.  Rap  music,  which 
became  the  next  wave  of  creativity  and  expression,  was  and  still 
is  a  voice  of  activism  found  in  acts  like  Public  Enemy,  X-Clan, 
Boogie  Down  Production,  Queen  Latifah  and  Paris.  These  acts 
make  and  made  young  urban  America  feel  good  by  mirroring  the 
lives  that  they  led  and  providing  the  words  that  they  were  too 
afraid  to  speak.  A  community  long  ignored  and  unheard  had  finally 
found  a  voice. 


The  entire  urban  youth  actions  of  the  Reagan  administration, 
coupled  with  the  nonaction  of  self-appointed  black  leaders,  left 
urban  teens  feeling  disenfranchised  with  little  hope  invested  in  tra- 
ditional ways  and  means  of  succeeding.  The  actions  of  other  leaders 
taken  without  full  knowledge  of  the  actual  problems  often  had  det- 
rimental effects. 

Rap  music  and  the  hip-hop  culture  sprung  from  a  portion  of  the 
population  that  had  been  left  out  of  the  American  dream.  So  it  is 
disheartening  but  not  surprising  to  watch  America's  media,  politi- 
cal leaders  and  average  citizens  blame  the  musical  expression  of  a 
generation  of  urban  youth  for  the  unraveling  of  our  social  fabric. 

It  is  appalling  to  watch  a  band  of  so-called  black  leaders  abandon 
their  duties  by  focusing  on  the  effect  and  not  the  cause  of  our  con- 
dition. At  the  end  of  the  civil  rights  struggle  of  the  1960's,  black 
leaders  began  to  focus  on  affirmative  action  and  equal  opportunity 
emplo3rment,  ignoring  the  lack  of  real  job  opportunities  for  the  poor 
and  the  paucity  of  training  programs  for  urban  youth.  Since  the 
end  of  that  era  of  civil  struggle,  mainstream  America  has  begun  to 
target  poor  people  of  color  as  a  strain  on  an  economically  drained 
Nation,  a  Nation  which  continued  to  spend  enormous  amounts  of 
money  on  the  building  of  arms  instead  of  on  the  building  of  com- 
munities and  the  improvement  of  education. 

The  Reagan  administration,  assisted  by  the  ill  focus  of  misguided 
community  leaders,  began  to  dismantle  Government  programs  that 
were  designed  to  bring  poor  people  out  of  crisis.  Left  with  no  social 
programs,  questionable  leadership  and  a  lack  of  role  models  outside 
of  entertainment  or  sports  figures,  urban  youngsters  began  to  cre- 
ate their  own  sub-cultures  in  the  form  of  gangs,  drug  dealers  and 
rap  music  as  a  means  of  gaining  respect  and  financial  status. 

These  are  the  problems  of  African  Americans  and  of  this  Nation. 
These  are  the  problems  that  need  to  be  addressed  by  the  throngs 
of  patriots  who  would  rather  stick  their  heads  in  the  sand  by  turn- 
ing off  the  voices  of  expression  than  step  up  and  take  a  closer  look 
at  what  the  roots  of  these  problems  really  are.  Perhaps  people  are 
afraid  to  realize  that  these  are  the  voices  that  outline  the  crimes 
committed  by  this  Nation  against  poor  people  of  color  and  the  sins 
of  disinterest  and  disdain  shown  by  our  so-called  leaders. 

But  I  would  be  remiss  if  I  defended  the  art  form  without  giving 
concrete  solutions  to  a  very  real  and  very  difficult  problem.  Now, 
first,  understanding  that  the  majority  of  the  target  rap  artists  are 
themselves  from  problem  environments,  we  must  as  a  society  take 
more  concern  with  child  care,  education,  after-school  community  ac- 
tivities and  jobs.  Instead  of  keeping  people  from  speaking  on  issues, 
we  must  go  into  the  community  to  remove  the  problems  so  that 
they  have  nothing  to  talk  about. 

Second,  in  alignment  with  the  freedoms  guaranteed  by  this  coun- 
try's Constitution,  we  must  urge  those  groups  who  are  offended  by 
rap  music  to  discontinue  the  purchase  of  what  they  believe  to  be 
offensive  products.  More  importantly,  those  groups  must  undertake 
missions  of  education.  Through  enlightenment,  ignorance  and 
harshness  will  be  crushed.  In  short,  my  mother  used  to  say  if  they 
knew  better,  they  would  do  better. 

Third,  any  solution  aimed  at  the  reshaping  of  the  hip-hop  com- 
munity must  come  from  within,  or  at  the  very  least  be  in  tandem 


with  that  community.  Frustrated  men  and  women  like  Reverend 
Jesse  Jackson  and  Dr.  C.  Delores  Tucker  who  misrepresent  them- 
selves as  representatives  of  the  masses  only  serve  to  fan  the  flames 
of  controversy.  The  final  result  is  nothing  more  than  waves  of 
media  exposure,  with  no  meaningful  steps  toward  understanding 
and  compassion. 

Finally,  I  too  am  concerned  about  the  misogynistic  and  violent 
lyrics  contained  in  modern  music,  but  I  also  realize  that  those 
themes  are  reality-based  and  they  will  not  go  away  as  long  as  we 
as  a  Nation  allow  a  portion  of  our  citizens  to  wallow  in  hopeless 
destitution,  ignoring  generations  of  neglect  and  abuse.  I  am  espe- 
cially concerned  about  the  effect  of  these  lyrics  on  this  Nation's 
youth  of  color,  but  I  am,  in  fact,  alarmed  that  some  of  our  Nation's 
leaders  would  shun  them,  tossing  them  away  and  holding  them  re- 
sponsible for  their  own  condition. 

I  stand  prepared  to  roll  up  my  sleeves  and  dedicate  my  resources 
to  any  real  solution,  but  I  fear  that  I  stand  with  a  precious  few  as 
too  many  of  us  become  confused  and  focus  on  the  S3miptoms  and 
not  the  illnesses.  The  answer  will  not  come  from  the  stifling  of 
voices  of  a  few  vocal  musicians,  but  from  viewing  these  voices  as 
pleas  for  help,  listening  to  those  voices  and  taking  action.  The  an- 
swer will  not  come  easily,  nor  will  it  be  agreed  upon  by  all,  but  it 
must  include  all  involved  in  order  to  be  implemented  with  any 
measure  of  success. 

Thank  you.  [Applause.] 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Thank  you,  Mr.  James. 

Senator  Cohen.  Madam  Chairman,  we  have  a  large  panel  and 
we  are  running  way  behind,  and  I  am  reluctant  to  ask  questions 
because  we  have  such  a  talented  panel. 

I  don't  think  any  white  person  can  ever  know  the  depth  of  pain 
that  has  been  inflicted  upon  African  Americans  in  this  country.  No 
one  that  I  am  aware  of  can  ever  know  that.  The  testimony  reflects 
a  diversity  of  opinion.  This  notion  that  all  people  of  African  Amer- 
ican descent  must  think  alike  and  they  must  have  one  opinion 
about  where  the  civil  rights  movement  is  going,  has  gone,  should 
go,  is  simply  not  realistic.  It  is  not  what  is  happening  in  society. 

I  listened  today  and  I  heard  Congresswoman  Waters  quote  some 
poetic  words.  They  weren't  the  words  that  are  on  these  charts  here. 
The  words  are  obviously  supposed  to  be  reflecting  the  pain  and  the 
anguish  and  the  frustration  that  you,  Mr.  James,  talked  about, 
and,  Professor  Dyson,  where  you  came  from. 

But  I  thought  about  writers  like  Richard  Wright  and  Gordon 
Parks,  Sr.,  and  James  Baldwin  and  Langston  Hughes,  and  the 
songs  of  Billie  Holiday  and  the  music  of  Miles  Davis  and  the  words 
of  Martin  Luther  King,  Jr.  I  don't  know  any  of  them  who  didn't  ex- 
press a  sense  of  rage  and  frustration  at  the  condition  that  was  im- 
posed upon  them,  but  not  one  of  them  ever  advocated  the  kind  of 
degradation  that  I  see  in  those  charts. 

Professor  Dyson,  I  am  reluctant  to  encourage  you  because  we 
could  go  on  for  a  long  time  and  I  would  like  very  much  to  continue 
to  speak  with  you.  When  you  talk  about  the  women  during  civil 
rights  movement  who  were  degraded  by  being  reduced  to  coffee-get- 
ters or  pencil  sharpeners,  that  may,  in  fact,  have  been  the  case. 
But  it  is  a  long  way  from  pencil  sharpeners  to  that  chart  over  there 


and  the  picture  on  that  particular  album.  That  has,  I  think, 
reached  a  new  level  of  degradation. 

I  can't  read  what  the  words  are.  The  lyrics,  unfortunately, 
Madam  Chairwoman,  are  in  very  small  print.  They  are  in  such 
small  print  because  we  don't  want  the  audience  who  is  watching 
on  television  to  see  these  words.  We  are  afraid  that  perhaps  they 
might  offend  our  sensibilities,  but,  in  fact,  those  words  are  going 
into  the  ears  of  all  of  our  young  people. 

Patrick  Mojoiihan  has  written  about  defining  deviancy  down.  We 
have  reached  a  level  in  our  society  of  accepting  events  that  20,  30, 
40  years  ago  would  have  shocked  us.  He  cites  the  St.  Valentine's 
Day  massacre.  I  think  three  or  four  people  were  murdered,  perhaps 
more,  and  it  made  headlines;  it  is  in  all  the  history  books.  We  see 
that  every  day  in  the  Washington  Post  and  we  think  nothing  of  it. 

So  we  have  allowed  what  used  to  be  deviant  conduct  to  be  re- 
duced down  to  a  level  now  where  our  sensibilities  no  longer  are  as 
offended  by  what  we  are  seeing  in  the  papers  every  day.  It  seems 
to  me  we  are  also,  in  the  process,  defining  down  our  sense  of  ex- 
pressions of  rage.  The  rage  has  been  there,  as  you  pointed  out, 
from  the  days  of  slavery  to  present,  and  it  has  been  expressed 
through  all  of  the  artists  I  have  mentioned  over  the  years.  Now 
those  feelings  are  being  expressed  in  some  cases  in  a  way  that  not 
simply  reflects  the  frustration  and  the  rage,  but  actually  encour- 
ages action,  and  that,  I  think,  is  a  difference  in  a  degree  which  we 
haven't  seen  before. 

Now,  we  can  point  to  the  presence  of  drugs  and  guns  as  added 
elements,  but  there  is  something  that  is  different  today  than  at  any 
time  before  because  now  it  is  not  simply  singing  and  talking  about 
a  condition,  but  it  is  actually  advocating  action,  action  which  Dr. 
Phillips  would  describe  as  pathological.  I  am  not  sure  how  you 
would  characterize  it,  but  this  is  what  we  are  trying  to  come  to 
grips  with,  not  that  we  don't  recognize  what  has  taken  place  and 
what  continues,  Mr.  James,  to  take  place  today.  There  is  no  deny- 
ing that,  and  we  have  an  obligation  to  try  to  remove  those  things 
which  have  resulted  in  the  condition  that  we  see  today,  day  after 
day.  We  have  that  obligation;  all  of  us  have  that  obligation. 

The  question  that  I  have  as  someone  sitting  here  is  what  do  we 
do  in  terms  of  the  young  children  coming  up.  Should  we  allow  them 
to  continue  to  hear  language  on  their  disc  players,  that  we  are 
afraid  to  even  repeat  here  today  in  open  session? 

Dr.  Phillips.  Senator,  we  prevent  children  from  smoking,  we 
prevent  children  from  drinking.  You  asked  the  question,  what 
should  we  do.  We  have  to  treat  it  the  same  way. 

Senator  Cohen.  It  was  a  rhetorical  question  because  I  know  the 
two  of  you  are  going  to  come  back  with 

Dr.  Phillips.  But  the  answer  should  not  and  cannot  be  rhetori- 
cal, and  that  is  the  point. 

Mr.  Dyson.  Well,  I  think  that  the  honorable  Senator  has 

Senator  COHEN.  It  was  only  rhetorical  because  I  know  the  two 
of  you  are  going  to  give  me  some  very  substantive  answers. 

Mr.  Dyson.  Well,  I  am  going  to  keep  mine  relatively  short.  I 
think  that  when  you  name  people  like  Billie  Holiday  and  James 
Baldwin  and  Richard  Wright,  and  so  on — or  we  can  take,  as  Dr. 


Tucker  earlier  talked  about,  the  words  from  the  Whitney  Houston 
song,  first  sung,  of  course,  by  George  Benson  in  the  movie  "The 
Greatest"  about  another  young  black  man  who  was  quite  controver- 
sial, namely  Muhammad  Ali,  about  whom  a  whole  range  of  things 
were  said  because  his  style  was  different. 

I  think  we  have  to  deal  here  on  several  different  levels.  There  is 
no  denying — and  as  I  indicated  earlier,  as  a  Baptist  preacher  who 
has  pastored  three  churches — and  I  was  a  teen  father;  I  have  a  16- 
year-old  son  who  is  here  today — there  is  no  questioning  the  fact 
that  we  ought  to  be  disturbed  by  a  whole  range  of  things  that  we 
see  presented  to  us,  and  one  of  them  happens  to  be  in  the  form  of 
gangster  rap  lyrics  that  talk  about  women  as  bitches  and  hoes  or 
sleazes  and  sluts  or,  as  I  said,  earlier  about  the  fag  and  dike, 
again,  trying  to  talk  about  the  homophobia. 

There  is  no  question  that  these  things  are  deleterious,  that  they 
are  negative,  but  the  reason  I,  first  of  all,  avoid  using  the  word 
"pathological"  is  because  the  honorable  Senator  Moynihan,  to 
whom  you  made  earlier  reference,  must  bear  some  responsibility, 
quite  frankly,  for  the  demonization  of  not  simply  black  children, 
but  black  women.  He  warned  in  that  infamous  1965  report  on  the 
black  family  about  the  coming  matriarchy  and  the  way  in  which 
the  disproportionate  power  that  accrued  to  black  women  would 
somehow  have  a  negative  effect  on  black  families  precisely  because 
you  would  have  single  female-headed  household  families  that  were 
run  by  black  women. 

Now,  we  see  the  same  thing  not  simply  in  the  Moynihan  report; 
we  see  it  in  "Boyz  'N  the  Hood,"  the  film  by  John  Singleton.  So  I 
am  not  trying  to  avoid  hard  questions  about  black  youth  culture  be- 
cause Singleton  himself  pointed  the  finger  ultimately  to  black 
women  because  black  women  raising  black  children  wouldn't  do 
good  enough;  we  need  to  have  the  presence  of  black  men. 

As  a  black  father,  I  certainly  want  to  be  in  on  the  raising  of  my 
child,  but  black  women  have  done  a  tremendous  job  of  raising  black 
families.  So  the  point  is  we  have  here  an  ironic  collusion  between 
white  cultural  sensibilities  that  are  often  conservative  and  black 
cultural  ones  that  are  quite  often  conservative  as  well. 

There  are  two  things  I  would  say  in  response  to  you.  First  of  all, 
vulgarity,  the  thing  that  we  are  talking  about  here,  is  a  staple, 
whether  we  acknowledge  it  or  not,  of  African  American  oral  tradi- 
tions, as  well  as  American  oral  traditions,  as  well  as  Western  cul- 
tural oral  traditions.  The  technology  allows  a  greater  access  to  the 
very  lyrics  that  in  previous  generations  were  relatively  contained 
within  local  communities. 

I  mentioned  "Stagger  Lee."  If  you  read  the  book  by  Lawrence  Le- 
vine.  Black  Culture  and  Black  Consciousness,  or  read  Professor  Pa- 
tricia Turner's  book,  /  Heard  It  Through  the  Grapevine,  about  the 
circulation  of  rumor  in  black  culture,  these  and  other  books  talk 
about  the  way  in  which  there  is  a  powerful  time-honored  tradition 
within  African  American  culture  where  the  circulation  of  some 
things  that  would  be  unsavory,  that  certainly  would  offend  the  nor- 
mal ear,  and  that  in  the  language  of  our  own  society  become  devi- 
ant— all  I  am  warning  against  here  is  that  how  we  construct  devi- 
ance must  be  carefully  done. 


In  general,  black  male  sexual  behavior  over  the  last  30  and  40 
years  has  itself  been  constructed  automatically  as  deviant.  How 
can  we  live  in  a  culture — and  I  really  will  be  quiet — how  can  we 
live  in  a  culture  where  we  have  constructed  black  males  as  walking 
phalluses,  as  James  Baldwin,  to  whom  you  had  reference,  called 
them  in  his  notes  to  Native  Son?  He  said  black  men  are  construed 
as  walking  phalluses,  and  the  demonization  of  black  men  as  the 
imager  bearers,  along  with  black  women  as  welfare  queens,  I  am 
suggesting,  creates  an  unfair,  unjust  examination  of  the  very  cul- 
ture that  we  aim  to  help. 

I  certainly  want  to  control  and  condemn  misogyny  and  sexism 
and  homophobia  and  classism  and  consumerism,  and  so  on,  but  I 
don't  think  by  pointing  to  gangster  rap  lyrics  we  can  really  elimi- 
nate that.  Not  only  is  it  pointing  at  a  symptom,  it  doesn't  deal  with 
the  underlining  virus  that  continues  to  cause  the  expression  of 
these  gangster  rap  lyrics. 

So  as  Senator  Moseley-Braun  rightly  said,  however,  simply  be- 
cause we  can't  deal  with  the  disease  doesn't  mean  we  mustn't  treat 
the  symptoms.  But  the  people  who  bear  the  symptoms  are  them- 
selves so  deeply  ingrained  in  the  forces  of  post-industrial  collapse, 
of  economic  emiseration,  and  finally  of  the  sexism  that  we  want  to 
point  to,  that  I  think  it  does  no  good  merely  to  isolate  them  without 
examining  these  other  forces  as  well,  and  the  best  of  our  tradition 
has  always  acknowledged  that  as  well. 

Senator  COHEN.  Dr.  Phillips,  did  you  want  to  respond? 

Dr.  Phillips.  I  have  to  respond.  This  is  nonsense.  Slavery  did  not 
do  it  to  us.  We  were  ripped  from  our  native  continent,  locked  in  the 
bowels  of  what  have  been  described  as  floating  shit  houses.  We 
were  brought  to  this  country  and  put  on  a  slave  block  and  sold.  We 
never  did  that  [indicating].  Martin  Luther  King  and  every  civil 
rights  leader  that  we  pay  homage  to  this  month  never  did  that. 

My  honorable  and  distinguished  colleague  from  Princeton 

Mr.  Dyson.  Brown.  You  want  to  get  the  right  school. 

Dr.  Phillips.  You  went  to  undergrad  at  Princeton,  I  understood, 
and  then  to  Brown. 

Mr.  Dyson.  Yes. 

Dr.  Phillips.  Let  me  remind  you  from  your  sister  institutions  at 
Yale  and  Harvard  that  it  is  not  dissent;  it  is  denigration.  We  are 
not  talking  about  freedom  of  expression.  We  are  talking  about  the 
protection  of  our  children  from  pathology.  This  is  pathology.  This 
is  a  cause-and-effect  relationship  between  what  we  hear,  what  we 
see,  and  how  people  act  violently  in  the  streets. 

We  cannot  intellectualize  this  away.  We  cannot  cast  this  in  the 
mode  of  an  art  form.  We  have  to  recognize  it  for  what  it  is.  It  is 
yet  another  example  of  the  way  in  which  we  are  institutionally  and 
racistly  [sic]  turned  inward  against  ourselves.  We  are  doing  today 
what  centuries  of  oppression  could  not  do  to  us. 

Mr.  D.  James.  Senator,  may  I  respond?  I  will  be  brief.  When  we 
walk  about  Dr.  Martin  Luther  King  and  when  we  talk  about  Rich- 
ard Wright  and  when  we  talk  about  James  Baldwin,  we  are  talking 
about  highly  trained  and  educated  men.  Snoop  Doggy  Dog  is  not 
a  highly  trained  and  educated  man.  We  are  also  talking  about  a 
situation  where  Snoop  Dog  did  not  have  the  benefits  of  the  edu- 
cation that  I  did  V2  of  a  generation  before  he  did. 


We  are  talking  about  a  generation  of  men  and  women  who  are 
exposed  to  some  things  that  I  believe  that  most  of  us  who  are  over 
30  do  not  understand  because  we  are  so  far  removed  that  we  are 
no  longer  exposed.  I  believe  that  the  focus  here  is  backwards. 
Qwame  Ture  said,  "Capitalism  will  come  to  confuse  us,  causing  us 
to  concentrate  on  the  form  and  so  miss  the  essence."  We  are  con- 
centrating on  the  result  of  generations  of  neglect  of  our  people,  but 
not  only  our  people,  but  this  country.  We  are  not  really  getting  to 
the  root  of  the  problem  as  long  as  we  are  focusing  on  entertain- 
ment, as  long  as  we  are  focusing  on  an  art  form. 

Senator  Cohen.  Thank  you. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Before  we  call  on  C.  Delores,  I  would 
like  to  start  off  by  responding  and  saying  to  the  panel  and  to  the 
audience  the  purpose  of  this  hearing  is  not  and  never  has  been  to 
blame  the  victims.  Let  us  start  with  that.  Quite  frankly,  I  think 
that  it  is  unfortunate  to  have  as  part  of  the  testimony  blaming  the 
fighters  for  social  justice  for  the  failures  of  their  struggle. 

I  know  Dr.  Tucker's  name  was  mentioned,  as  was  Reverend 
Jackson's,  and  I  feel  compelled  to  speak  to  that  issue  because  I 
have  known  Dr.  Tucker's  struggle  the  15  years  I  have  known  of  her 
when  she  was  the  treasurer  in 

Ms.  Tucker.  Secretary  of  State. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Secretary  of  State.  Going  back  to  that 
day,  this  is  someone  who  has  devoted  her  life  to  trying  to  make 
things  better,  to  bring  attention  to  things  like  education  and  job 
creation,  and  to  get  people  to  pay  attention,  Mr.  James,  to  the  very 
things  you  are  talking  about. 

So,  really,  you  know,  you  talk  about  pitting  people  against  each 
other.  If  anything,  we  are  seeing  that  even  on  this  panel  in  the 
sense  of  focusing  inward  and  missing  really  what  ought  to  be  the 
focus  and  the  target  of  our  concerns.  We  are  not  talking  about 
blaming  the  victims. 

I  would  say  also,  in  keeping  with  the  quote  about  "agitate,  agi- 
tate," agitation  certainly  is  appropriately  always.  You  have  to  agi- 
tate for  change.  It  comes  of  that.  Power  yields  nothing  except  to  a 
demand.  It  never  has  and  it  never  will.  But  there  is  a  difference 
between  people  who  are  working  to  help  to  improve  the  quality  of 
life  and  people  who  are  working  in  just  the  opposite  direction,  to 
hurt,  who  are  acting  out  either  in  rebellion  or  riot  or  drug  use  or 
sexism  or  cannibalism,  or  whatever.  That  is  the  perverse  side  of 
perhaps  the  same  phenomenon. 

So  when  we  have  hearings  like  this — and  this  has  really  been  a 
fascinating  one  for  me.  I  think  this  has  been  delightful  and  all  of 
the  witnesses  here  have  done  just  a  fabulous  job,  but  Senator 
Cohen  is  exactly  right.  There  has  been  a  great  deal  of  conversation 
in  the  Senate  about  Senator  Moynihan's  paper  on  defining  devi- 
ancy  down,  but  I  think  we  have  to  ask  the  question,  where  is  the 
floor  and  who  gets  to  drive  that  level — you  know,  assuming  that 
the  level  is  there,  to  what  extent  will  we  ignore  the  fact  that  there 
is  money  being  made  out  of  the  floor  going  lower  and  lower,  that 
there  are  consequences  of  the  floor  being  lower  and  lower. 

Especially  for  our  society,  we,  I  think,  have  a  responsibility  to 
our  children  to  begin  to  address — again,  as  we  address  and  focus 
in  on,  if  you  will,  the  root  causes,  as  we  focus  in  on  the  phenome- 


non — and  Professor  Dyson  and  I  had  a  conversation  about  the  dif- 
ference between  calUng  the  expression  a  pathology  versus  calling 
the  condition  a  pathology.  There  is  a  distinction. 

But  as  we  work  to  resolve  the  condition  itself,  I  think  we  also 
have  an  obligation  as  a  society,  as  a  community,  as  a  Senate  Judi- 
ciary subcommittee,  as  an  industry,  and  I  know  you  have  taken 
some  steps  with  your  magazine  that  have  been  laudable  ones.  I  no- 
tice even  the  cartoon  on  the  back  was  essentially  one  that  says  this 
killing  of  each  other  is  only  helping  the  forces  of  hate. 

So  I  think  we  need  to  talk  about  where  the  responsibility  is  and 
what,  if  anjrthing,  we  can  do,  while  protecting  that  most  fundamen- 
tal of  our  fundamental  freedoms,  which  is  the  freedom  of  speech 
and  expression.  So  I  think  that  the  reason  for  having  this  hearing 
and  the  second  panel  that  will  come  up  is  to  discuss  what  we  can 
do  about  that  which  is  clearly  a  phenomenon  that  does  not  bode 
well,  that  does  not  speak  well  for  what  we  have  turned  over  to  our 

C.  Delores? 

Ms.  Tucker.  Yes.  I  would  just  like  to  address  the  young  man, 
and  I  will  do  that  after  the  hearings  are  over.  The  reason  the  Na- 
tional Political  Congress  of  Black  Women  was  founded  was  because 
at  the  1984  convention  I  was  sort  of  working  with  Jesse  Jackson, 
who  at  that  time  was  running  for  President  of  the  United  States, 
and  one  of  the  things  that  we  tried  to  do  at  that  convention  was 
to  get  a  full  employment  bill  in  the  platform  to  get  the  kinds  of  is- 
sues that  would  alleviate  these  conditions  in  our  communities.  We 
were  not  able  to  get  them  into  the  platform  as  we  wanted,  and  we 
were  working  with  Reverend  Jesse  Jackson,  Maxine  Waters  and 
Shirley  Chisholm  and  others,  including  yourself. 

That  is  what  we  were  there  trying  to  do  to  make  sure  that  the 
Democratic  Party  that  we  are  a  part  of  would  include  those  issues 
of  full  employment,  of  jobs,  of  training,  of  education,  and  that  is 
what  we  did.  When  we  found  out  that  we  could  not  include  many 
of  those  issues  in  the  platform,  we  decided  that  we  would  organize 
ourselves,  and  1  month  later  we  came  back  and  did  that  to  speak 
to  these  very  issues. 

So  Reverend  Jesse  Jackson — we  sometimes  call  him  the  father  of 
this  organization  because  he  said  we  need  to  organize.  We  are 
working  at  that,  but  we  also  were  encouraged  by  the  entertainment 
commission,  co-chaired  by  Dionne  Warwick,  helping  them  to  get  re- 
spect in  the  industry.  Before  they  could  get  that  respect  and  re- 
move the  tinsel  ceiling  that  exists  for  them  in  Hollywood,  the 
women  of  the  entertainment  commission  directed  us  to  the  insults 
and  the  disrespect  that  they  are  receiving  through  gangster  rap. 

We  are  not  condemning  the  rappers,  but  we  are  saying  that  the 
record  industry  promotes  this.  There  is  not  one  black  institution  or 
company  in  America  that  could  produce  that  kind  of  smooth  pack- 
aging and  distribution.  It  does  not  come  from  the  black  community. 
It  comes  from  the  elite  record  industry  that  packages  it  and  distrib- 
utes it,  and  that  is  why  it  is  not  any  longer  in  L.A.,  it  is  all  over 
the  country  and  all  over  the  world. 

These  negative  images  are  telling  the  world  that  this  is  all  we 
are.  They  are  being  paid  to  carry  the  very  images  that  you  talked 
about  that  have  been  stereotypical  images  about  us.  They  are  pay- 


ing  our  young  people  to  give  this  message  about  us  around  the 
world,  and  that  is  why  we  heard  the  Prime  Minister  of  Japan  say 
that  we  are  persons  that  should  not  be  allowed  in  their  commu- 
nities because  of  the  fact  that  we  would  destroy  the  neighborhood, 
that  we  are  prostitutes  and  all  of  that. 

There  is  a  young  man  here  from  the  hood  now  from  "Peace  in  the 
Hood"  who  said  that  he  was  in  the  Marines  in  Iran.  He  is  some- 
where here  in  this  room,  but  he  said  that  when  he  was  in  Iran, 
these  messages  have  even  reached  there.  When  the  hostages  were 
there,  a  memo  came  across  his  desk  that  he  had  access  to  that  said 
let  the  black  soldiers  go  because  they  have  no  value  in  America; 
America  doesn't  care  about  them,  so  let  them  go.  These  are  the  im- 
ages. These  are  the  things  that  we  sit  here  for,  these  kinds  of  im- 
ages here. 

The  19  children  that  were  found  in  that  home  that  I  talked  about 
are  seeing  this.  The  11-year-old  boy  that  shot  his  sister  said  that 
he  was  imitating  Snoop  Doggy  Dog  and  talking  all  that  Snoop 
Doggy  Dog  stuff  to  the  girls.  The  Snoop  Doggy  Dog  art  work  that 
children  can  buy  has  a  gun.  Snoop  Doggy  Dog  is  holding  a  gun  and 
clicking  it,  and  then  in  another  frame  it  says  "kill  the  ho,  kill  the 
ho."  There  is  no  argument  that  we  can  use  about  that. 

We  know  about  the  other  problems,  but  this  is  pornography. 
Five-year-old  children  can  buy  it.  An  8-year-old  bought  it  in  one  of 
the  cities  and  the  mother  took  it  and  said,  what  in  the  world  are 
we  going  to  do.  She  has  called.  All  of  the  mothers  are  not  under- 
standing what  this  rap  is  about,  and  that  is  why  I  thank  you  for 
holding  these  hearings  because  it  is  an  educational  process.  All  of 
us  need  to  talk  more  and  fmd  out  how  we  can  remove  this  from 
our  children  and  give  them  the  best  and  the  beauty  that  they  need 
to  have  in  their  lives  at  this  particular  time. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Thank  you  very  much.  We  will  have  a 
recess  for  30  minutes  and  come  back  at  1:00.  I  want  to  thank  this 
panel  of  witnesses.  You  were  fabulous.  We  really  appreciate  the 
various  points  of  view  and  appreciate  your  testimony.  Thank  you. 

This  hearing  is  recessed.  [Recess.] 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  We  will  now  reconvene  the  hearing  of 
the  Juvenile  Justice  Subcommittee.  The  next  panel  consists  of 
Hilary  Rosen,  Steve  McKeever,  Nicholas  Butterworth  and  David 
Harleston.  I  understand  there  were  two  other  witnesses  planned  to 
testify  who  have  not  appeared,  but  we  will  go  forward  with  the  wit- 
nesses who  are  here.  I  want  to  thank  you  for  joining  us. 

Why  don't  we  start  with  Ms.  Rosen? 



Ms.  Rosen.  Thank  you.  Madam  Chair.  My  name  is  Hilary  Rosen. 
I  am  Executive  Vice  President  of  the  Recording  Industry  Associa- 


tion  of  America.  The  RIAA  represents  the  interests  of  about  90  per- 
cent of  the  sound  recording  companies  in  the  United  States.  Thank 
you  for  inviting  me  here  today. 

I  just  want  to  start  off  by  saying,  Senator,  that  in  the  tradition 
of  the  closing  of  the  last  panel,  we  know  your  motives.  We  know 
that  no  Senator  came  here  working  for  youth  justice  and  the  bet- 
terment of  programs  and  fighting  for  gun  control  with  more  integ- 
rity and  more  enthusiasm  than  you  have,  and  we  know  that  that 
is  not  what  this  is  about. 

I  want  to  present  you  with  an  overview  today  of  the  positive  and 
important  steps  the  recording  industry  has  taken  in  its  responsibil- 
ity for  the  explicit  content  of  sound  recordings.  I  also  want  to  take 
this  opportunity  to  show  you  another  side  of  the  young  people  who 
are  creating  this  music  and  to  share  with  you  some  of  their  efforts 
to  address  the  societal  problems  that  they  describe  in  their  music. 

But  first,  though,  if  I  might,  I  would  like  to  read  a  couple  of  lines 
from  a  statement  from  somebody  who  wanted  to  be  here  with  you 
today,  but  who  couldn't  be.  I  do  this  and  submit  his  full  statement 
in  the  record;  that  is,  Quincy  Jones. 

He  says: 

For  decades,  I  have  been  involved  in  the  American  music  culture  as  a  composer, 
record  producer,  record  company  executive,  artist,  arranger  and  conductor.  I  have 
watched  and  guided  the  careers  of  several  generations  of  young  musicians  and,  be- 
cause of  this,  I  feel  compelled  to  state  my  concerns  before  this  committee  regarding 
the  intense  scrutiny  of  the  hip-hop  community  and  the  role  of  rap  music  in  our  cul- 

As  a  citizen  and  a  parent,  there  are  a  lot  of  things  happening  on  the  street  right 
now  that  bother  me.  Like  any  artists,  hip-hop  artists  are  products  of  their  environ- 
ment and  their  environment  is  the  street.  This  influences  the  kind  of  music  they 
make.  Hip-hop  artists  frequently  relate  experiences  which  you  may  find  unsettling 
or  uncomfortable,  but  that  is  their  intention. 

The  hip-hop  culture  has  tremendous  energy  and  it  has  become  the  medium 
through  which  young  people  are  voicing  a  whole  range  of  problems  and  solutions. 
Rap  is  really  the  language  that  addresses  those  solutions,  and  as  a  cultural  force 
it  holds  hope  that  there  are  alternatives  to  gangs,  drugs  and  dying  at  23. 

I  would  ask  that  his  statement  be  inserted  in  the  record. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Without  objection. 

Ms.  Rosen.  In  1985,  the  Recording  Industry  Association  of  Amer- 
ica reached  an  agreement  with  the  National  PTA  and  the  Parent's 
Music  Resource  Center.  The  agreement  specified  that  music  re- 
leases containing  explicit  lyrics,  including  explicit  depictions  of  vio- 
lence, be  identified  so  that  parents  can  make  intelligent  listening 
choices  for  their  children. 

In  1990,  after  communicating  with  parents,  record  companies 
and  retailers,  we  established  through  the  RIAA  a  voluntary,  uni- 
form parental  advisory  logo  and  uniform  terms  for  its  placement. 
The  standardized  logo  was  implemented  to  increase  overall 
consumer  awareness  of  the  advisory  sticker  and  to  provide  parents 
with  an  easily  identifiable  means  of  singling  out  recordings  with 
explicit  themes. 

Each  record  company,  in  consultation  with  their  artists,  deter- 
mines which  of  their  recordings  will  display  the  logo.  The  black  and 
white  logo 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Could  you  say  that  again,  the  last  part 
of  your  statement? 


Ms.  Rosen.  The  decision  to  place  the  logo  is  made  by  each  record 
company,  in  consultation  with  their  artists. 

The  black  and  white  logo  shown  here  is  standard  in  size  and  in 
color  and  placement,  affixed  to  the  bottom  right-hand  corner  of  an 
album  or  CDs  under  the  cellophane  shrink  wrap.  It  is  on  the  per- 
manent packaging.  It  measures  1.5  by  1  inch  on  cassettes  and  CDs, 
and  1  by  1  inch  on  albums.  Let  me  add  that  this  logo  cannot  be 

The  parental  advisory  program  places  the  decision  on  who  and 
what  to  hear  where  it  belongs,  with  parents  and  guardians.  This 
program  is  designed  to  respond  to  the  values  of  each  individual 
parent  or  guardian  and  not  the  values  of  the  Government  or  the 
values  of  special  interest  groups.  Let  me  emphasize  that  labeling 
is  only  as  effective  as  parents  or  guardians  choose  to  make  it. 

The  parental  advisory  program  is  not  a  token  gesture  and  there 
should  be  little  doubt  as  to  how  seriously  the  industry  takes  this 
program.  In  fact,  virtually  every  recording  that  has  been  the  target 
of  public  controversy  has  a  parental  advisory  sticker  on  its  cover. 
The  reason  I  hesitated  was  because  that  record — we  have  checked 
in  every  single  retail  outlet  in  Washington  and  that  record  has  a 
sticker.  I  don't  know  where  whoever  put  that  sign  up  got  that  cover 
art  work  because  those  particular  records  that  are  there  do  have 
the  logo. 

The  parental  advisory  program  has  also  served  as  an  important 
tool  for  radio  stations  and  retailers  when  considering  whether  spe- 
cific or  explicit  recordings  should  be  broadcast  or  made  available 
for  sale  to  minors. 

I  assume  that  there  are  people  in  this  room  who  came  to  this 
hearing  today  having  already  drawn  a  conclusion  about  rap  music. 
To  those  people,  I  ask  that  you  open  your  mind  and  use  today  as 
an  opportunity  to  take  a  closer  look  at  the  young  people  who  are 
creating  this  music.  If  it  does  appear  that  they  are  celebrating  soci- 
ety's ills  or  glorifying  them,  perhaps  what  we  are  hearing  is  their 
desperation  to  rise  above  despair  with  energy  and,  above  all,  with 

For  instance,  Run-D.M.C,  Das  EFX,  Cypress  Hill,  Pete  Rock,  CL 
Smooth,  Grand  Puba,  M.C.  Lyte,  Heavy  D  and  other  names  in  rap 
music  will  be  performing  free  next  month  at  a  New  York  City  con- 
cert that  requires  a  gun  to  attend.  The  goal  of  reducing  urban  vio- 
lence is  something  that  rappers  have  always  played  an  important 
role  in. 

KRS  1,  Chuck  D,  Ice  Cube  and  Ice  T  are  stars  of  the  lecture  cir- 
cuit. They  spend  half  their  time  discussing  topics  such  as  practicing 
safe  sex,  not  using  drugs,  getting  a  college  education,  giving  back 
to  the  community  and  stopping  gang  violence  before  numerous  au- 
diences in  schools  and  in  prisons. 

Yo  Yo,  a  23-year-old  female  rapper  feminist  who  has  been  called 
a  gangster,  founded  the  Intelligent  Black  Woman's  Coalition.  Its 
mission  is  to  help  build  self-esteem  and  unity  among  women  of  all 
races.  Ice  Cube  initiated  the  Brotherhood  Crusade,  a  nonprofit  or- 
ganization set  up  after  the  civil  unrest  in  L.A.  to  help  rebuild  mi- 
nority communities  and  provide  aid  to  the  homeless  and  the  elder- 
ly. A  great  number  of  rap  artists  have  also  worked  closely  with  the 

88-398  0-95-3 


NAACP  and  Rock  the  Vote,  as  you  will  hear,  to  encourage  kids  to 
participate  in  the  political  system  by  doing  voter  registration. 

The  efforts  I  have  described  are  merely  representative  of  numer- 
ous efforts  that  have  been  undertaken  by  artists  and  their  compa- 
nies and  what  we  believe  has  in  a  very  positive  way  affected  the 
communities  in  which  they  live. 

I  thank  you  for  the  opportunity  to  appear  and  I  would  be  happy 
to  answer  any  questions. 

[The  prepared  statement  of  Mr.  Jones  was  not  available  for  press 

[The  prepared  statement  of  Ms.  Rosen  follows:] 

Prepared  Statement  of  Hilary  Rosen  on  Behalf  of  the  Recording  Industry 

Association  of  America 

My  name  is  Hilary  Rosen  and  I  am  the  executive  vice  president  of  the  Recording 
Industry  Association  of  America.  The  RIAA  is  a  trade  association  that  represents 
approximately  90  percent  of  the  companies  that  create,  manufacture  or  distribute 
sound  recordings  in  the  United  States. 

Today,  I  am  here  to  present  this  committee  with  an  overview  of  the  positive  and 
important  steps  the  recording  industry  has  taken  in  its  responsibility  for  the  exphcit 
content  of  sound  recordings.  I  also  want  to  take  this  opportunity  to  show  you  an- 
other side  of  the  young  people  who  are  creating  this  music  and  share  with  you  some 
of  their  efforts  to  address  the  societal  problems  that  they  describe  in  their  lyrics. 

In  1985,  the  Recording  Industry  Association  of  America  reached  an  agreement 
with  the  National  Parent  Teacher  Association  and  the  Parents  Music  Resource  Cen- 
ter. The  agreement  specified  that  music  releases  containing  explicit  lyrics,  including 
explicit  depictions  of  violence,  be  identified  so  that  parents  can  make  intelligent  lis- 
tening choices  for  their  children. 

In  1990,  after  communicating  with  parents,  record  companies,  and  retailers,  we 
estabUshed  through  the  RIAA  a  voluntary,  uniform  "Parental  Advisory"  logo  and 
uniform  terms  for  its  placement.  The  standardized  label  was  implemented'  to  in- 
crease overall  consumer  awareness  of  the  advisory  sticker  and,  specifically,  to  pro- 
vide parents  with  a  single,  standardized  and  easily  identifiable  means  of  singling 
out  recordings  with  explicit  themes.  Each  record  company,  in  consultation  with  the 
artist,  determines  whicn  of  their  recordings  will  display  the  logo. 

The  black  and  white  logo,  shown  here,  is  standard  in  size,  color  and  placement 
and  is  affixed  to  the  bottom  right  corner  of  an  album,  cassette  or  CDs'  permanent 
packaging  underneath  the  cellophane  shrink  wrap.  The  label  measures  one  by  one 
half  inch  on  cassettes  and  CD  jewel  boxes  and  one  by  one  half  inch  by  one  inch  on 
albums.  Let  me  add  that  this  logo  is  actually  printed  on  the  CD  or  cassette  cover 
and  cannot  be  removed. 

Two  weeks  ago  at  Congresswoman  Ceirdiss  Collins'  hearing  on  music  Ijoics,  she 
held  up  examples  of  some  explicit  sound  recordings  that  had  deviated  from  the  Advi- 
sory Program.  In  one  instance  the  logo  was  smaller  than  it  should  have  been,  in 
another  there  was  no  label  where  most  would  have  put  one. 

In  response,  the  RIAA  sent  a  memorandum  last  week  to  the  heads  of  our  member 
labels  reminding  them  of  the  importance  of  proper  use  and  placement  of  the  logo. 
Enclosed  with  the  memorandum  was  a  fact  sheet  describing  the  exact  size  and 
placement  on  both  CD  and  cassette  packaging.  The  memorandum  was  also  sent  to 
the  National  Association  of  Independent  Record  Distributors  &  Manufacturers  to  en- 
courage them  to  send  the  material  to  their  member  companies  who  are  generally 
smaller  independents.  The  RIAA  routinely  takes  measures  to  remind  industry  ex- 
ecutives that  the  standardized  Parental  Advisory  logo  allows  record  companies  and 
their  artists  to  exercise  their  artistic  rights  while  at  the  the  same  time  exercising 
their  social  responsibility  to  the  community. 

The  Parental  Advisory  Program — supplemented  by  retailer  cooperation — is  a  posi- 
tive response  of  the  music  industry  as  responsible  corporate  citizens  to  provide  use- 
ful information  to  parents  or  guardians  to  assist  them  in  deciding  what  their  chil- 
dren should  buy  and  hsten  to.  In  so  doing,  the  Parental  Advisory  Program  places 
the  decision  on  who  and  what  to  hear,  where  it  belongs — with  parents  and  guard- 
ians. This  program  is  designed  to  respond  to  the  values  of  each  individual  parent 
or  guardian,  and  not  the  values  of  the  government  or  the  values  of  special  interest 
groups.  But  let  me  emphasize  that  labeling  is  only  as  effective  as  parents  or  guard- 
ians choose  to  make  it. 


The  Parental  Advisory  Program  is  not  a  token  gesture  and  there  should  be  Uttle 
doubt  as  to  how  seriously  the  industry  takes  this  program.  In  fact,  virtually  every 
recording  that  has  been  the  target  of  public  controversy  has  a  Parental  Advisory 
sticker  on  its  cover.  It  is  standard  practice  at  most  record  companies  to  provide 
lyrics,  review  art  work  with  their  retail  accounts  and  inform  their  retail  accounts 
of  the  nature  of  certain  explicit  product  and  even  prepare  explicit  and  non-explicit 

Although  our  philosophies  and  strategies  may  differ,  we  are  in  fact  joined  in  our 
efforts  by  manv  who  take  responsibility  for  the  explicit  content  of  sound  recordings. 
The  Parental  Advisory  Program  also  has  served  as  an  important  tool  for  radio  sta- 
tions, cable  television  and  record  retailers  when  considering  whether  specific  explicit 
recordings  should  be  broadcast  or  made  available  for  sale  to  minors. 

The  Parental  Advisory  Program  works  with  the  cooperation  of  our  retail  accounts. 
For  instance,  Kemp  Mill  Music,  a  local  chain,  stickers  every  bin  containing  rap,  rock 
and  other  genres  of  music  popular  with  young  people  with  a  flyer  explaining  the 
Parental  Advisory  sticker  and  its  purpose.  In  addition,  Kemp  Mill  displays  posters 
listing  suggested  rap  titles  for  children  as  well  as  for  teens. 

The  American  music  industry  is  one  of  the  most  energetic  and  imaginative  busi- 
nesses in  our  society,  employing  hundreds  of  thousands  of  talented  songwriters,  art- 
ists, producers  and  musicians,  as  well  as  marketing,  promotion,  publicity,  business 
affairs,  manufacturing  and  distribution  personnel  wno  produce  recordings  of  re- 
markable diversity  and  depth.  And  while  the  industry  has  been  allowed  to  flourish 
in  an  unrestricted,  unsuppressed,  innovative  environment,  our  member  companies 
do  not  underestimate  the  significance  and  importance  of  their  social  responsibilities 
and  their  robe  as  good  corporate  citizens.  This  is  also  especially  true  of  many  of  the 
rap  artists  these  companies  distribute. 

I  assume  there  are  people  in  this  room  who  came  to  this  hearing  today  having 
already  drawn  a  conclusion  about  rap  music.  To  those  people,  I  ask  that  you  open 
your  mind  and  use  today  as  an  opportunity  to  take  a  closer  look  at  the  young  people 
who  are  creating  this  music.  Their  reality,  the  world  they  came  from,  is  often  one 
full  of  poverty,  violence,  alcoholism,  drug  abuse,  racism,  homelessness,  hopelessness 
and  disrespect.  I  hope,  if  nothing  else,  that  you  come  away  today  with  an  awareness 
that  rap  artists  verbalize  their  reality.  If  it  appears  that  they  celebrate  or  glorify 
it,  perhaps  what  you're  hearing  is  their  desperation  to  rise  above  the  despair  with 
energy  and  entertainment. 

It  should  be  obvious  from  their  lyrics  that  these  young  men  and  women  are  pas- 
sionate about  what  they  feel,  and  many  of  them  translate  that  passion  into  time, 
effort  and  money  spent  trying  to  make  a  difference  in  a  world  that  only  a  few  in 
this  room  could  accurately  imagine.  They  use  their  influential  role  as  well  as  the 
economic  power  they  can  marshal  to  make  innumerable  contributions  to  their  com- 

For  instance,  Run-D.M.C,  Das  EFX,  Cypress  Hill,  Pete  Rock  and  CL  Smooth, 
Grand  Puba,  M.C.  Lyte,  Heavy  D  and  other  top  names  in  rap  music  will  be  perform- 
ing free  next  month  at  a  New  York  City  concert  that  requires  a  gun  to  attend.  With 
the  goal  of  reducing  urban  violence,  concert  goers  will  be  required  to  turn  in  a  gun 
in  exchange  for  two  tickets  to  the  private  concert. 

KRS  1,  Chuck  D  and  Ice  Cube  are  stars  of  the  lecture  circuit.  They  spend  half 
their  time  discussing  topics  such  as  practicing  safe  sex,  not  using  drugs,  getting  a 
college  education,  giving  back  to  the  community  and  stopping  gang  violence  before 
such  audiences  as  inner  city  elementary  and  high  schools  kiofs  and  inmates  at  cor- 
rectional facilities. 

Self  Destruction,  Public  Enemy,  Queen  Latifa  and  Boogie  Down  Productions  are 
just  a  few  of  the  rap  artists  who  helped  to  raise  hundreds  of  thousands  of  dollars 
for  a  special  fund,  within  the  Stop  tne  Violence  Movement,  geared  specifically  at 
fighting  black  on  black  crime. 

YoYo,  who  testified  at  Congresswoman  Collins'  hearing,  founded  the  Intelligent 
Black  Woman's  Coalition.  Its  mission  is  to  help  build  self-esteem  and  unity  among 
women  of  all  races  in  order  to  help  them  make  a  change  in  their  lives  and  in  their 

Ice  Cube  initiated  the  Brotherhood  Crusade,  a  nonprofit  organization  set  up  after 
the  LA  riots  to  help  rebuild  minority  communities  and  provide  aid  to  the  homeless 
and  the  elderly.  He's  also  a  major  contributor  to  Books  Plus,  an  African-American 
literacy  program. 

Many  rap  artists  including  Ice  T  and  Easy-E  contributed  to  the  making  of  "We're 
All  in  the  Same  Gang,"  a  single  and  video  intended  to  deglamorize  gang  violence. 

And  a  great  number  of  rap  artists  have  done  voter  registrations  drives  with  the 
NAACP,  Rock  the  Vote  and  others  to  encourage  kids  to  participate  in  the  political 


The  efforts  I  have  described  are  merely  representative  of  the  many  projects  under- 
taken by  rap  artists  on  their  own  initiative  and  the  positive  influence  and  great  gen- 
erosity they  have  demonstrated. 

Madame  Chairman,  thank  you  for  the  opportunity  to  present  today  the  views  of 
the  recording  industry. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Thank  you  very  much. 
Consistent  with  the  first  panel,  we  will  hear  from  the  entire 
panel  and  then  come  back  with  questions. 
Mr.  McKeever? 


Mr.  McKeever.  Thank  you.  Good  morning.  My  name  is  Steve 
McKeever  and  I  am  the  Executive  Vice  President  of  Talent  and 
Creative  Affairs  for  Motown  Records.  I  am  pleased  to  be  here  today 
to  give  my  personal  opinion,  briefly  explain  my  company's  position, 
and  address  this  sensitive  and  complex  issue  in  the  hope  that  these 
hearings  will  be  a  catalyst  to  investigate  the  root  causes  for  our 
youth  to  cry  out  using  unmistakable  images  and  language  of  hope- 
lessness and  despair. 

While  the  use  of  violent  and  misogynistic  images  has  been  con- 
troversial in  the  music  industry,  Motown  quite  frankly  has  had  a 
relatively  easy  time  dealing  with  this  issue  for  three  major  reasons. 
First,  the  misogynistic  words  don't  fit  the  Motown  image.  It  was  a 
company  built  for  translating  African  American  popular  culture  in 
the  1960's  into  American  popular  culture,  and  the  image  that  we 
have  developed  really  isn't  a  marriage. 

Second,  as  a  trusted  icon  of  the  African  American  community 
and  the  general  community  at  large,  we  at  Motown  feel  a  true 
sense  of  responsibility  for  the  product  that  we  release,  particularly 
in  our  own  community.  While  we  don't  have  a  rule  book  of  words 
or  statements  which  are  allowed,  because  I  don't  believe  any  lan- 
guage in  itself  is  damning,  we  have  drawn  just  a  few  specific  prohi- 
bitions; for  example,  gratuitous  misogyny,  which  I  see  no  value  in 
and  will  not  release. 

The  third  is  really  just  corporate  economics.  Motown's  most  valu- 
able asset  is  its  trademark.  An  association  with  the  most  obiection- 
able  material  could  potentially  damage  or  tarnish  this  valuable  and 
historical  trademark. 

I  only  set  the  stage  for  Motown,  however,  to  show  that  although 
we  have  made  distinctions,  those  distinctions  have  been  made  ac- 
cording to  our  specific  history,  corporate  mission  and  economic  cir- 
cumstances. In  the  laws  of  free  enterprise,  each  individual  com- 
pany should  make  its  own  decisions  based  on  their  own  capabilities 
and  historical,  moral  and  economic  agenda  without  governmental 

Despite  the  fact,  though,  that  I  believe  the  first  amendment 
clearly  governs  this  issue,  I  am  not  here  to  argue  first  amendment, 
but  to  simply  illuminate  what  I  see  as  primary  realities  behind  this 
issue.  In  my  opinion,  the  first  reality  is  that  the  best  art  reflects 
real-life  experiences.  As  long  as  there  are  things  in  real  life  that 
are  offensive  or  objectionable,  art  will  reflect  them  and  be  deemed 
objectionable  expressions  by  someone.  I  think  there  is  no  way  to 
really  stop  art  imitating  life,  and  I  really  can't  find  a  reason  to. 
This  is  why  I  believe  a  legislative  solution  to  the  deemed  objection- 
able utterances  is  not  necessarily  the  direction. 


spect "ve''deblte  \7d' TnV  tf  *''  ^f'r'  '^^"«  d^-^^^ds  intro- 
bpecuve  aeoate   and  it  it  takes  a  stand  from  the  legislator.?  vmiv 

of  ourTlent  Society'  ""^"'^  '^"'''  ^^  "  «'^''""*-  '°  *e  root^causes 

ag^tolhe 'art  fo™T/,'n'™.°Y-  "?  ''^^'•<'  ^t'-''^''  ""'^y  P^id  hom- 
age CO  tne  art  torm  ot  rap  and  hip-hop,   n  which  I  wholeheartpHlv 

concur  Rap  is  one  of  the  most  important  and  exciting  eTOlvSTart 

forms  to  come  along  in  a  long  time,  influencing  the  fuU  spectrum 

?n  ffimnrthe  7tnT^J'"'"°"^'"'"'"°"y  ^'^^  ^id  an  exceflent™^ 

in  aetaiiing  the  strife  of  minonties  in  our  inner  cities   nerhfln«  ihc 

real  reason  behind  many  of  the  works  in  question  L^fwrniout 

rTfic  Lnd?;io^^^^^^^^       established  ground,  please  let  me  say  the  hor- 

pr^cede  tt^^^^^  ^^^^^^  "^^  P°^^  ^^^an  communities 

foi?r  disturbing  expressions  sometimes  found  in  this  art 

ihfr^^^''  ''^f^^  ^°  consider  is  that  I  think  every  generation-I 
think  you  made  some  mention  in  your  opening  statement-doming 
of  age  uses  music  as  a  distinguishing  element  from  the  preS 
generation.  I  believe  deep  down  that  kids  are  attracted  to  music 
that  their  parents  are  not  going  to  understand.  For  example  in  the 
suburbs  where,  inc  dentally,  most  gangster  rap  is  sold,  if  your  par 

9?nnf '""  ^l  ^^l^'^^^^  ^°  ^1^^^  P^^^l^y'  the  Beach  Boys,  th^e  RolUng 
Stones  or  Chuck  Berry,  you  are  not  going  to  define  your  own  iden 
tity  via  music  by  buying  the  latest  Rolling  Stones  record.  However 
It  you  bring  home  a  record  that  deals  with  graphic  violence  thev 
purch^Ise  "^  ""'*  ''^^'"-  Therefore,  you  made  a  successful  musk 
If  history  is  any  indication,  long  after  gangster  rap  goes  the  way 
ot  punk  rock,  slam  dancing  and  other  now  past,  forgotten  music 

ZfbT^'t^r^^^r.r"  ^'  ^^"^^^^  expression  Embraced  by  our 
youth  which  shocks  the  mainstream. 

nJi^T.S''^  ^'^'''  ^^f  ^"""l^^  ^^ty  ^^^sed  during  the  economic  geno- 
cide ot  the  previous  decade  in  a  community  where  already  shaky 
hope  for  tomorrow  has  eroded  to  nothing,  the  music  in  question 
here  reflects  your  surroundings.  You  relate,  and  therefore  it  satis- 

We  also  can't  overlook  the  fact  that  most  people,  I  think,  buy  a 
record  because  the  groove  feels  good,  not  so  much  with  attention 
to  the  lyrical  content.  I  think  that  is  probably  the  most  frequent 
reason  tor  hip-hop  purchases  because  the  freshest  grooves  today 
emanate  from  the  hip-hop  world. 

While  I  do  not  believe  a  recording  by  itself  causes  devil  worship- 
ping, drive-by  shootings  or  misogyny,  I  do  acknowledge  that  the  cu- 
^^^^ri^f  fr^^  ^i  violent  or  negative  images,  whether  they  come 
irom  1 V,  tilm,  video  games  or  music,  may  have  a  negative  impact 
on  youth  in  an  environment  without  any  counter-balancing  images 
or  role  models.  This  is  not  the  fault  of  the  recording  industry  alone 
However,  I  do  believe  that  the  industry  should  address,  discuss  and 
respond  to  these  potentially  negative  effects. 

Thankfully,  the  rap  community  has  called  attention  to  the  abhor- 
rent and  hopeless  environment  that  surrounds  our  inner  cities  just 
^^  j^^^stream  America's  version  of  rap,  which  is  today's  talk  show 
and  rv  talk  programs,  have  shown  light  on  the  hidden  horrors  of 


incest,  child  abuse,  infidelity  and  date  rape  occurring  in  the  sub- 

I  personally,  however,  cannot  support  the  ability  of  a  6-year-old 
to  purchase  material  relating  to  these  disturbing  subject  matters. 
Ideally,  a  6-year-old  should  not  be  able  to  purchase  a  2  Live  Crew 
record  nor  a  ticket  to  "Jurassic  Park"  or  listen  to  a  detailed  discus- 
sion on  penal  amputation  on  the  6:00  news.  All  material  is  not  ap- 
propriate for  all  ages. 

We  as  an  industry  must  make  some  distinctions.  I  think  this  re- 
ality will  loom  more  important  as  technology  moves  records  and 
other  media  purchases  beyond  the  traditional  retail  outlets.  I  un- 
derstand we  have  a  parental  advisory  sticker.  However,  the  con- 
cerns raised  by  parents  and  community  leaders  should  not  be  ig- 
nored, and  perhaps  we  need  to  review  the  effectiveness  of  this  ap- 
proach. For  the  record,  though,  I  really  do  feel  a  dramatic  increased 
concern  in  the  community,  in  the  industry  and  among  artists  re- 
garding this  issue. 

Finally,  the  most  important  reality  I  think  that  shapes  this  issue 
is  purely  economic.  I  believe  that  social  change  is  also  accompanied 
by  changing  economic  perspectives.  For  example,  the  economic  cir- 
cumstances surrounding  some  of  the  most  pivotal  decisions  in 
American  history,  from  slavery  to  the  Boston  Tea  Party  to  the  Su- 
preme Court  endorsement  of  the  virtual  genocide  of  the  American 
Indian  to  the  end  of  Jim  Crow  on  Montgomery's  buses  to  the  Gulf 
War,  all  played  a  major  role  in  the  outcome  of  these  events. 

While  great  leaders  have  helped  change  the  perception  of  our  so- 
cial environment  and  have  helped  pave  the  way  for  new  thinking, 
the  actual  changes  in  behavior,  attitude  and  practices  can  usually 
be  traced  to  the  economic  realities  that  were  previously  hidden  be- 
fore this  new  way  of  thinking.  For  example,  I  believe  the  main  rea- 
son why  African  Americans  suddenly  appeared  in  toothpaste  com- 
mercials during  the  1960's  was  not  simply  to  answer  the  social 
cries  for  equality,  but  because  toothpaste  companies  realized,  large- 
ly because  of  the  work  of  the  civil  rights  movement  and  civil  rights 
leaders,  that  they  could  sell  more  toothpaste  more  effectively  to  the 
African  American  community  by  using  a  representative  from  that 
community.  Similarly,  today's  changing  public  policy  toward  smok- 
ing has  been  enacted  because  of  the  acute,  demonstrable  realiza- 
tion that  the  expense  of  tobacco-inflicted  disease  far  outweighs  the 
income  derived  by  the  tobacco  industry. 

The  economic  reality  for  artists  and  the  record  companies  is  two- 
fold. As  long  as  the  conditions  exist,  these  records  will  be  made, 
and  as  long  as  there  is  demand,  they  will  be  sold.  While  I  can't  nec- 
essarily endorse  every  image  put  up  that  we  have  talked  about  and 
quoted,  as  long  as  people  want  them,  I  think  people  will  produce 
them.  It  is  really  the  law  of  supply  and  demand,  period. 

But  most  importantly,  and  I  think  this  is  really  the  emphasis,  as 
long  as  the  kids  feel  no  hope  for  tomorrow,  let  alone  today,  these 
cries  will  be  expressed  in  our  music  as  well  as  other  art  forms.  It 
is  important  that  the  Government  attack  the  very  root  causes  in 
this  form— Government,  industry  and  individuals  attack  the  very 
root  causes  of  this  form  of  expression  by  directly  addressing  the 
problems  in  our  inner  cities  through  support  of  Federal  programs. 


education  and  messages  with  positive  values  that  funnel  directly 
into  the  community. 

Thank  you  for  the  opportunity  to  share  my  views  with  you. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Thank  you  very  much,  Mr.  McKeever. 

Nicholas  Butterworth,  Executive  Director  of  Rock  the  Vote. 


Mr.  Butterworth.  Thank  you.  Senator  Moseley-Braun,  Senator 
Cohen,  thank  you  for  this  opportunity  to  appear.  I  am  testifying  on 
behalf  of  Rock  the  Vote  Action  Project's  over  350,000  members  and 
supporters,  who  are  young  people  all  across  America  deeply  com- 
mitted to  working  through  the  political  system  to  improve  our  lives 
and  our  future.  We  do  voter  registration  all  around  the  country  at 
rock  concerts. 

We  have  worked  with  hundreds  of  recording  artists  to  promote 
political  participation  through  television,  media  appearances  and 
personal  appearances  around  the  country.  We  have  lobbied  on  is- 
sues like  motor  voter,  voter  registration  reform  and  community 
services,  and  we  are  currently  involved  in  a  major  campaign  to  in- 
volve young  people  in  this  discussion  about  how  to  resolve  the  ter- 
rible crisis  of  youth  violence.  So  I  speak  as  somebody  who  is  deeply 
concerned  with  young  people. 

I  represent  hundreds  of  thousands  of  young  people  and  I  have  a 
message  which  is  not  so  much  for  this  committee  because  I  under- 
stand that  you  have  taken  pains  to  stress  that  we  are  not  here  to 
talk  about  censorship.  There  is  no  legislation  pending,  as  I  under- 
stand it,  which  would  be  in  violation  of  the  first  amendment.  None- 
theless, there  have  been  statements  made  here  today  which  clearly 
point  toward  censorship,  I  think  treat  the  first  amendment  very 
lightly,  I  think  treat  young  people  condescendingly,  and  it  sends  a 
terrible  message  to  the  young  people  who  are  out  there,  and  even 
the  young  people  in  this  room,  about  what  Government  can  do. 

I  want  to  focus  on  the  political  implications  of  this  discussion  for 
young  people,  as  well  as  on  what  we  can  do,  which  is  the  most  im- 
portant thing  that  we  can  come  out  of  here  with  today. 

First  of  all,  let  me  talk  about  some  of  the  claims  that  gangster 
rap  is  advocating  violence  and  glamorizing  violence.  I  don't  know 
of  a  single  gangster  rap  record  which  is  directly  addressed  to  listen- 
ers urging  them  to  perform  violent  acts.  It  just  isn't  the  case.  Usu- 
ally, gangster  rap  records  are  in  the  first  person  by  a  rapper  or 
group  of  rappers  boasting  about  perhaps  violent  acts  that  they 
have  committed.  They  are  playing  characters. 

Some  of  the  lyrics  that  have  been  quoted,  for  example,  from  the 
Getto  Boys  today  which  are  most  shocking  are  from  a  song  called 
"Mind  of  a  Lunatic."  Clearly,  there  is  a  character  being  portrayed 
here,  which  is  not  the  same  as  the  person.  There  is  complexity  in 
hip-hop,  including  gangster  rap.  There  is  nuance,  there  is  subtlety, 
there  is  irony,  and  young  people  understand  this  and  some  of  the 
people  who  want  to  ban  rap  music  don't  seem  to  understand  it  at 

Senator  Cohen.  Mr.  Butterworth,  could  I  ask  you  to  tell  me  what 
the  subtlety  is  in  the  album  "As  Nasty  As  They  Wanna  Be"  and 
"Dick  Almighty?" 

Mr.  Butterworth.  I  am  not  familiar  with  that  song,  so  I 


Senator  Cohen.  You  are  not  familiar  with  that? 

Mr.  BuTTERWORTH.  No.  I  can't  tell  you. 

Senator  Cohen.  I  am  going  to  see  to  it  that  you  have  a  copy  of 
the  lyrics  and  I  want  you  to  tell  me  at  the  conclusion  of  this  hear- 
ing what  is  the  subtlety  involved  in  that.  Thank  you. 

Mr.  BuTTERWORTH.  I  will  be  happy  to  do  so,  Senator. 

I  would  also  add  that  all  of  this  rap  music  comes  in  a  context, 
not  just  a  societal  context,  but  an  internal  context  within  hip-hop. 
There  is  a  critique  inside  hip-hop  of  sexism  and  misogyny  and,  to 
a  certain  extent,  of  homophobia  and  certainly  of  violence  and  vio- 
lent imagery. 

I  have  just  been  handed  the  lyrics  to  the  song.  I  will  have  to  get 
back  to  you  after  the  hearing  on  the  subtlety  in  these  lyrics. 

You  can't  just  read  a  hip-hop  lyric  and  say  this  advocates  some- 
thing and  young  people  are  going  out  and  doing  it.  It  is  the  equiva- 
lent of  saying  if  Snoop  Dog  said  jump  off  a  bridge,  the  youth  of 
America  would  go  ana  jump  off  a  bridge.  It  is  insulting  to  young 
people.  It  is  ridiculous,  in  my  view,  to  suggest  that  these  or  any 
lyrics  could  be  major  contributing  factors  to  the  increase  in  youth 
violence  that  we  have  seen  in  the  last  5  years  when  we  have  so 
many  other  social  realities  which  are  much  more  urgent  and  press- 

It  has  been  wonderful  to  hear  finally  a  gathering  in  Washington, 
DC,  which  has  discussed,  as  nearly  every  speaker  has,  the  terrible 
realities  that  our  young  people  are  confronting.  But  I  must  tell  you 
that  young  people  across  America  are  not  getting  the  message  that 
Government  cares  about  them,  is  working  for  them  and  can  deliver 
jobs,  health  care,  education  and  all  the  other  things  that  many  peo- 
ple in  the  rap  community  have  been  talking  about  for  years. 

I  would  like  to  read  some  lyrics  from  Tupac  Shakur  from  a  song 
called  "Trapped"  which  came  out  2  years  ago. 

How  can  I  feel  guilty  after  all  the  things  they  did  to  me,  sweated  me,  hunted  me, 
trapped  in  my  own  community?  One  day  I'm  going  to  bust,  blow  up  on  this  society. 
Why  did  you  lie  to  me?  I  couldn't  find  a  trace  of  equality. 

This  is  not  a  justification  for  violence.  This  is  an  opinion  ex- 
pressed by  a  character  in  a  song. 

What  I  Want  to  point  to  here  is  that  it  is  a  very  political  opinion, 
and  a  lot  of  what  comes  under  the  heading  of  gangster  rap  is  ex- 
tremely political.  I  think  you.  Senator  Cohen,  earlier  at  the  begin- 
ning of  this  hearing  said  what  happens  if  people  want  to  distribute 
the  teachings  of  Minister  Farrakhan.  Rappers  have  already  been 
talking  about  Nation  of  Islam  ideology  for  years.  There  is  a 

Senator  COHEN.  I  am  going  to  come  to  that,  if  I  could.  Madam 
Chairwoman,  in  terms  of  whether  the  record  industry  would  be  in- 
terested in  promoting  that  on  a  massive  scale,  since  it  may  appeal 
to  a  lot  of  people,  and  the  target  audience  of  those  words  is  quite 
larger  and  wider  than  what  we  are  talking  about  here.  I  would  be 
interested  in  finding  out  who  in  the  record  industry  would  be  inter- 
ested in  promoting  that  kind  of  hip-hop  or  rap. 

Mr.  BUTTERWORTH.  The  point  that  I  would  like  to  make  in  re- 
sponse is  that  no  matter  whether  you  or  I  or  anyone  agrees  or  dis- 
agrees with  the  political  implications  of  what  some  of  these  young 
people  who  are  artists  are  saying,  they  are  making  political  state- 


ments.  They  are  talking  within  a  community  of  young  people  about 
politics,  and  to  impose  censorship  or  restrictions  on  them  not  only 
would  violate  the  first  amendment,  which  is  a  fundamental  right 
of  our  democracy,  but  I  also  think  it  sends  a  terrible  message  to 
young  people  around  the  country. 

Young  people  don't  want  censorship.  They  want  politicians  to  ad- 
dress their  real  problems.  They  are  not  getting  the  message.  We 
work  every  day  at  Rock  the  Vote  to  convince  young  people  that 
they  can  be  part  of  meaningful  change.  Our  job  gets  much,  much 
harder  when  adults  hear  cries  of  anger,  cries  of  pain,  and  just  want 
to  turn  a  switch  and  shut  off  the  noise.  The  anger  won't  go  away, 
the  pain  won't  go  away.  The  violence,  I  am  sorry  to  say,  will  not 
go  away  even  if  banned  every  gangster  rap  record  that  some  com- 
mittee could  find. 

The  only  thing,  in  my  view  and  Rock  the  Vote's  view,  that  can 
contribute  to  developing  a  youth  culture  which  will  be  more  posi- 
tive is  supporting  the  efforts  that  young  people  themselves  are 
making.  That  means  there  needs  to  be  more  expression,  more  de- 
mocracy, more  activism,  and  you  can't  tell  young  people  what  to 
think  and  what  not  to  think  if  you  are  going  to  work  in  partner- 
ship, hand-in-hand  with  them  to  help  them  understand  that  they 
truly  can  build  a  better  world. 

Thank  you. 

[The  prepared  statement  of  Mr.  Butterworth  follows:] 

Prepared  Statement  of  Nicholas  Butterworth  on  Behalf  of  the  Rock  The 


My  name  is  Nicholas  Butterworth  I  represent  over  350,000  members  and  support- 
ers of  Rock  The  Vote  Action  Project,  a  national  youth  advocacy  organization  of 
which  I  serve  as  Executive  Director.  I  also  represent  Rock  The  Vote  Education 
Fund,  a  non-profit  group  which  educates  young  people  about  the  political  process 
and  issues  of  importance  to  our  generation.  Rock  The  Vote  conducts  voter  registra- 
tion campaigns  and  advocates  for  government  action  to  benefit  young  people,  such 
as  voter  registration  reform  and  community  service. 

Rock  The  Vote's  members  and  supporters  are  strongly  opposed  to  government-im- 
posed censorship;  our  slogan,  "Censorship  is  UnAmerican,"  speaks  for  itself  At  the 
same  time,  we  oppose  sexism,  homophobia,  and  violence  among  young  people.  We 
are  sympathetic  to  the  motivations  of  some  of  the  concerned  parents  and  educators 
here  today.  But  we  disagree  strenuously  with  some  about  the  best  way  to  fight  vio- 
lence and  sexism. 

Rock  The  Vote  was  founded  by  members  of  the  recording  industry  and  we  have 
received  significant  support  from  artists  and  companies  in  this  industry.  I  think  we 
can  fairly  be  cited  as  an  example  of  very  substantial,  socially  positive  work  to  bene- 
fit young  people  supported  by  this  industry.  We  are  front-line  fighters  against  the 
alienation  and  hopelessness  that  make  violence  possible.  Literally  hundreds  of 
America's  most  popular  hip-hop,  metal,  alternative  and  pop  recording  artists  have 
worked  with  us  to  reawaken  the  spirit  of  political  participation  among  young  Ameri- 
cans. In  the  1992  election,  we  registered  over  250,000  young  people  to  vote  and  in- 
fluenced nearly  a  million  more,  contributing  to  the  largest  increase  in  young  voter 
turnout  since  1972,  when  18  to  21  year-olds  first  voted  nationally. 

Currently,  Rock  The  Vote  Action  Project  is  launching  a  major  campaign  to  involve 
millions  of  young  people  in  the  struggle  against  youth  violence  through  community 
forvuns  around  the  country.  Rock  The  Vote  Education  Fund  is  participating  in  a 
project  named  "Freedom  Summer  '94,"  with  other  organizations  including  the  Black 
Student  Leadership  Network,  commemorating  the  memory  of  the  Freedom  Summer 
project  in  Mississippi  in  1964  by  working,  in  some  of  the  most  devastated  commu- 
nities in  the  nation,  with  small,  youth-led  groups  who  are  building  organizations 
and  programs  as  alternatives  to  violence.  Our  organization,  and  our  generation,  des- 
perately wants  to  reduce  the  terrible  harm  young  people  are  inflicting  on  each  other 
around  the  country. 

88-398  0-95-4 


But  one  thing  is  clear;  government-imposed  restrictions  on  popular  music,  wheth- 
er it  is  outright  censorship,  as  we  have  seen  attempted  repeatedly  over  the  last  dec- 
ade, or  pressure  on  artists  or  companies  to  halt  the  release  of  records  with  certain 
words  or  certain  attitudes,  will  not  help  youn^  people,  despite  the  best  intentions 
and  honorable  record  of  many  who  are  speaking  out  against  certain  music.  From 
oiu-  perspective,  the  call  for  government  intervention  is  misguided,  damaging,  and 

First  of  all,  let  me  address  the  contention  that  music  lyrics  have  a  negative  or 
harmful  effect  on  listeners.  Whether  this  claim  is  made  by  religious  fundamental- 
ists, as  is  often  the  case,  or  by  distinguished  civil  rights  leaders,  as  is  the  case 
today,  the  fact  remains  that  this  allegation  is  unproven  and  probably  unprovable. 
It  is  hearsay.  It  is  insulting  to  music  listeners.  And  it  shows  a  fundamental  mis- 
understanding of  music  and  poetry — which  is  what  hip-hop  lyrics  are. 

Music  listeners  are  not  stupid.  They  understand  nuances,  irony,  complexity,  ref- 
erences, and  the  difference  between  a  characterization  and  a  real  person.  The  anti- 
lyrics  advocates  don't  seem  to  hear  any  of  these  things.  Young  people  who  listen  to 
hip-hop  understand  the  difference  between  the  word  "gun"  and  a  real  gun.  Some 
people  seem  to  act  like  they're  the  same  thing. 

Hip-hop,  as  many  have  pointed  out,  is  a  reflection  of  social  reality.  That  is  true. 
But  nip-hop  is  more  than  that.  It  is  a  highly  sophisticated  medium  of  communica- 
tion between  young  people.  In  fact,  many  of  the  issues  raised  by  this  hearing  are 
addressed  in  hip-hop  itself  So-called  "gangster"  rappers,  for  example,  often  take 
pains  to  stress  that  they  are  telling  stones  reflecting  their  communities'  experience, 
that  they  are  sending  a  message  to  mainstream  America,  that  the  lives  of  the  char- 
acters they  portray  are  full  of  fear,  mistrust,  and  doubt,  and  that  they  wish  society 
offered  a  better  way.  Some  rappers,  like  Queen  Latifah,  have  spoken  out  strongly 
against  sexism  in  reality  and  music  through  their  lyrics.  Others,  like  Masta  Ace, 
have  criticized  the  medium  of  gangster  rap  and  the  violent  poses  some  rappers 
adopt.  And  finally,  much  of  the  confrontational  language  in  hardcore  rap  is  a  meta- 
phor for  contests  over  rapping  skills.  When  rappers  say  they  are  "hard,"  it  refers 
to  lyrical  style,  not  necessarily  to  everyday  life. 

The  point  here  is  that  there  is  already  a  strong  critical  voice  within  hip-hop  about 
issues  of  violence  and  sexism,  and  a  highly  articulated  understanding  of  characters, 
voices,  and  messages  that  comment  on  but  do  not  equal  reality.  Young  people  who 
are  rap  listeners  understand  all  of  these  things.  It  seems  their  self-appointed  guard- 
ians do  not.  It  is  not  the  proper  place  of  the  United  States  government  to  limit  com- 
plexity because  of  ignorance. 

Secondly,  I  want  to  stress  the  importance  of  the  First  Amendment  as  a  fundamen- 
tal political  right.  Rock  The  Vote's  members  know  the  text  of  this  Amendment  be- 
cause it  is  printed  on  the  back  of  our  membership  card.  The  First  Amendment  ad- 
dresses the  separation  of  church  and  state,  the  freedom  of  speech  and  the  press,  and 
the  right  "peaceably  to'  assemble  and  petition  the  government  for  a  redress  of  griev- 
ances." There  is  a  reason  all  these  issues  are  addressed  at  once;  they  all  bear  on 
the  political  freedom  of  opinion,  expression,  and  protest  that  is  the  essential  under- 
pinning of  a  democracy. 

No  matter  how  objectionable  some  may  find  the  opinions  expressed  in  some 
songs — and  Rock  The  Vote  shares  many  concerns  about  misogyny,  violence,  and 
homophobia — every  American  who  cares  about  civil  rights  in  a  democratic  republic 
ought  to  recognize  that  singling  out  the  expression  of  particular  ideas  by  particular 
groups  for  censorship  is  a  political  act  with  terrible  implications  for  our  society. 

In  fact,  much  hip-hop,  especially  so-called  "gangster  rap,"  is  deeply  political,  both 
implicitly  and  explicitly.  And  many  of  the  criticisms  directed  at  rappers  are  political 
in  nature.  For  example,  the  San  Francisco  Chronicle  published  an  article  this  Satur- 
day. February  19,  entitled  "Rap  Album  Angers  Menlo  Fare  PoUce."  (p.  A15)  In  one 
song  on  a  local  compilation,  a  rapper  used  an  expletive  to  refer  to  a  particular  offi- 
cer, by  name,  and  his  anti-narcotics  team.  The  cover  of  this  albvun  shows  a  police 
officer  hanging  by  the  neck  at  a  local  street  corner. 

I  use  this  example  because  it  starkly  portrays  who  is  probably  the  single  most- 
often  articulated  political  idea  in  hardcore  rap;  opposition  to  police  forces  in  cities 
around  this  country.  Often,  the  anger  and  outrage  at  police  racism  and  brutality  is 
expressed  in  fantasies  about  killing  police  officers,  as  on  the  cover  of  this  album. 
Sometimes,  as  in  the  song  referred  to,  police  forces  and  even  individual  officers  are 
referred  to  by  name — although  I  know  of  no  example  in  which  a  rap  record  has  di- 
rectly urged  listeners  to  kill  police  officers. 

Should  we  applaud  the  fantasy?  Absolutely  not.  Can  we  deny  the  reality  that 
there  is  "a  near-total  lack  of  faith  in  institutions",  as  a  survey  we  commissioned  last 
year  reported,  especially  with  respect  to  urban  police  among  young  African  Ameri- 
cans and  young  Americans  in  general?  We  cannot.  Can  we  say  there  is  no  justifica- 


tion  for  this  attitude  after  Rodney  King,  after  massive  erosions  of  civil  liberties  dur- 
ing the  failed  war  on  drugs,  when  city  after  city  has  seen  reports  of  poUce  corruption 
and  the  experience  of  police  harassment  based  solely  on  skin  color  is  widespread 
among  young  minority  males?  We  do  not  think  so.  Others  may  disagree.  But  it  is 
not  this  government's  job  to  decide. 

Young  people  have  the  right  to  express  their  dissatisfaction  with  the  world  they 
live  in.  Take  away  that  right  and  you  will  destroy  what  remaining  confidence  there 
is  in  the  ability  of  this  social  and  governmental  system  to  deliver  justice  and  oppor- 
tunity. On  the  same  page  of  the  Chronicle  where  the  rap  story  appears,  there  is  a 
story  about  a  California  legislator  pleading  guilty  to  racketeering.  There  could  not 
be  a  more  stark  witness  to  the  hypocrisy  of  silencing  the  critics  of  our  society. 

Third,  I  want  to  take  this  opportunity  to  remind  this  body  and  the  other  witnesses 
here  of  the  terrible  lack  of  meaningful  life  choices  many  young  people  face.  The  fact 
of  the  matter  is  this:  America  currently  does  not  provide  adequate  employment,  po- 
lice protection,  health  care,  or  education  for  millions  of  young  people,  and  the  num- 
bers are  getting  worse  and  worse.  I  ask  that  all  of  us  remember  that  we  have  a 
responsibility  as  leaders  to  acknowledge  the  reality  that  young  people  face. 

That  reality  is  bleak.  Full-time  employment  for  young  Anican-Americans  has 
been  dropping  since  the  early  '80s.  Todays  minimum  wage  is  not  enough  to  lift  a 
family  of  three  above  the  poverty  line.  Teenage  African-American  unemployment 
was  measured  at  37  percent  in  December,  1993— a  figure  that  doesn't  include  invol- 
untary part-time  workers  or  discouraged  workers  or  young  people  who  have  yet  to 
hold  a  single  job  long  enough  to  qualify-  Things  are  so  bad  in  many  cities  that  deal- 
ing drugs  is  a  rational  economic  choice,  as  a  RAND  institute  study  has  confirmed. 

In  todays  world,  young  people  with  college  and  graduate  degrees  are  forced  into 
minimum-wage,  low  benefit  jobs.  Many  young  people  without  a  high  school  diploma 
can't  find  any  work  at  all.  And  the  mandatory  minimum,  sentencing  laws  passed 
in  the  1980's  have  created  a  generation  of  young  people  shaped — and  deformed — 
by  passing  through  a  court  and  prison  system  that  even  Federal  judges  say  can't 
deliver  justice. 

Meanwhile,  as  opportunity  declines  and  no  hope  is  in  sight,  a  flood  of  cheap  guns 
has  given  every  teenager  the  means  to  turn  anger  into  deadly  violence.  Again,  I  re- 
mind you  of  the  lack  of  faith  in  the  police  as  a  protective  force  in  many  urban  com- 
munities. Today,  young  people  are  carrying  guns  for  protection  from  each  other. 

Against  this  backdrop;  bad  schools,  poor  health  care,  a  lack  of  decent  jobs,  and 
a  lack  of  faith  in  the  government's  willingness  and  ability  to  solve  these  problems, 
it  is  unacceptable  to  point  at  music  as  the  cause  of  violence.  It  is  certainly  unaccept- 
able to  young  people,  and  it  should  be  unacceptable  to  adults  of  good  will  and  con- 
science as  well. 

Instead  of  telling  young  people  what  to  think  and  not  to  think,  instead  of  pretend- 
ing that  they  know  what  s  best  for  this  generation,  people  who  are  concerned  about 
racism,  sexism,  and  violence  ought  to  work  with  the  young  people  who  are  trying 
to  build  alternatives.  Rock  The  Vote  has  led  the  way  in  reaching  millions  of  young 
people  with  the  message  that  voting  matters,  that  they  can  change  their  world 
through  political  participation,  not  through  violence,  and  ttiat  our  democratic  system 
of  government  can  work  to  solve  the  problems  confronting  our  generation.  We  are 
trying  to  build  hope  where  there  is  little.  We  are  trying  to  convince  young  people 
that  older  generations  can  listen  and  can  respond  to  our  needs. 

All  of  this  work  is  made  much  more  difficult  when  leaders  focus  on  the  music  in- 
stead of  the  message.  Young  people  are  angry.  They  are  letting  the  rest  of  us  know 
about  it.  If  our  only  response  is  trjang  to  turn  down  the  noise,  we  will  confirm  their 
worst  fears.  We  will  truly  have  failed  this  generation.  All  of  us  ought  to  do  better. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Thank  you  very  much. 
Our  next  witness  is  Mr.   Harleston,  the  head  of  Def  Jam,  of 


Mr.  Harleston.  Thank  you  very  much.  Senator  Moseley-Braun, 
Senator  Cohen,  I  am  delighted  to  be  here  and  I  want  to  thank  you 
for  the  opportunity  to  testify  before  this  subcommittee. 

My  name  is  David  Harleston.  I  am  president  of  Rush  Associated 
Label,  or  RAL,  which  has  as  its  largest  and  most  prolific  division 
Def  Jam  Recordings,  Incorporated.  To  my  left  is  Carmen  Ashurst- 
Watson,  who  is  the  president  of  Rush  Communications,  the  func- 


tional  parent  of  Rush  Associated  Labels.  Def  Jam  Recordings,  or 
Def  Jam,  was  founded  in  1983  by  Russell  Simmons,  who  has  been 
widely  recognized  as  the  individual  who  brought  hip-hop  to  the  cul- 
tural fore.  Russell  Simmons  currently  serves  as  our  chief  executive 

RAL  is  engaged  primarily  in  the  creation,  marketing,  promotion 
and  distribution  of  the  spectrum  of  music  that  is  known  as  hip-hop. 
In  1993  hip-hop  music,  in  all  its  forms,  accounted  for  approxi- 
mately 7.8  percent  of  the  estimated  $10.2  billion  United  States 
music  market.  Without  question,  hip-hop  has  evolved  into  a  major 
contributor  to  the  music  industry. 

Russell  Simmons  and  Def  Jam  have  been  integral  to  the  growth 
and  popularity  of  hip-hop  music.  This  music  and  this  culture  have 
achieved  a  level  of  creative  energy  which  justifies  our  corporate 
commitment  to  the  genre.  Hip-hop  has  provided  an  extraordinary 
avenue  of  artistic  expression  for  African  American  youth  and  it  has 
economically  empowered  a  generation  of  artists,  producers  and  oth- 
ers who  have  imported  hip-hop  culture  and  music  into  areas  such 
as  fashion,  film,  advertising,  comedy,  television  and  publishing. 

I  would  be  less  than  candid  if  I  did  not  acknowledge  my  concerns 
about  this  hearing.  During  the  past  year,  the  hip-hop  community 
has  been  the  subject  of  intense  scrutiny  concerning  the  role  of  rap 
music  in  our  culture.  Some  critics  have  suggested,  for  example, 
that  rap  music  glorifies  violence,  degrades  women  and  erodes  com- 
munity values.  I  do  not  question  the  sincerity  of  those  who  have 
expressed  those  views.  However,  I  strongly  believe  that  those  views 
are  myopic. 

Let  us  be  clear.  Like  all  artists,  hip-hop  artists  are  products  of 
their  environment.  Their  environments  have  influenced  who  they 
are  and  the  kinds  of  music  they  make.  Accordingly,  hip-hop  artists 
frequently  related  experiences  which  many  find  unsettling  or  un- 
comfortable. That  is  precisely  the  point  that  certain  artists  are  try- 
ing to  make. 

However,  it  is  increasingly  apparent  that  certain  opponents  of 
hip-hop  are  of  the  misguided  view  that  if  we  do  not  hear  about  the 
issues  raised  and  addressed  in  the  music,  then  those  issues  will  not 
exist.  In  fact,  one  could  argue  that  efforts  to  suppress  hip-hop  art- 
ists are  efforts  to  ignore  unpleasant  realities  that  exist  in  America's 
backyard.  Such  a  view  simply  denies  reality.  Silencing  the  mes- 
senger will  not  extinguish  the  problem. 

While  I  am  here  today  to  discuss  hip-hop  culture  and  the  record- 
ing industry,  I  hope  that  we  can  also  begin  a  constructive  conversa- 
tion about  the  conditions  to  which  some  members  of  our  society  are 
subjected,  conditions  which,  in  fact,  make  gangsterism  appear  to  be 
a  reasonable  life  choice. 

As  a  record  company,  Def  Jam  is  essentially  a  manufacturer, 
marketer,  promoter  and  distributor  of  recorded  music  to  consum- 
ers. Fundamentally,  we  discover,  develop  and  sell  music.  In  so 
doing,  we  work  closely  with  artists,  managers  and  producers,  all  of 
whom  have  a  direct  and  immediate  interest  in  the  success  of  a  par- 
ticular recording. 

When  we  make  a  decision  to  sign  an  artist,  that  decision  fully 
embraces  the  artist's  vision.  Our  primary  inquiry  is  whether  the 
artist  is  authentic  and  distinctive.  In  our  view,  the  dominant  con- 


cern  is  that  an  artist  write  and  rap  from  important  experiences  or 
understandings  in  that  artist's  life.  Those  experiences  may  not  be 
pretty  or  pleasant.  They  need  only  be  real. 

It  is  for  these  reasons,  therefore,  that  we  do  not  require  an  artist 
to  adhere  to  prescribed  rules  relating  to  lyrical  content.  Rather,  in 
deciding  whether,  in  our  judgment,  the  work  of  a  particular  artist 
is  of  sufficient  merit  to  warrant  release,  we  ask  only  whether  the 
work  is  true  to  the  artist's  vision,  as  we  understood  that  vision  at 
the  time  we  signed  the  artist. 

We  also  acknowledge  the  significance  of  lyric  symbolism  in  our 
artists'  work.  Like  all  recording  artists,  rap  artists  engage  in  meta- 
phor and  imagery  in  order  to  make  their  points.  Curiously,  rap  art- 
ists are  rarely  given  credit  for  their  use  of  metaphor.  Rather,  they 
are  held  unfairly  to  a  literal  standard  which  is  not  applied  to  cre- 
ators and  performers  of  other  forms  of  art. 

Some  critics  of  hip-hop  music  have  also  suggested  that  the  lyrics 
will  bring  about  the  very  problems  they  address.  Some  have  sug- 
gested, for  example,  that  the  music  contributes  to  a  preponderance 
of  violence  and  misogjniy  in  our  communities.  Of  course,  that  sug- 
gestion ignores  both  history  and  reason.  Violence  and  sexism  in  the 
African  American  community  and  the  United  States  generally 
clearly  predate  the  rise  in  popularity  of  rap  music. 

Moreover,  tragic  as  it  is,  violence  is  something  that  many  of  our 
urban  youth  must  confront  regularly,  and  sexism  remains  a  per- 
nicious force  throughout  our  society.  As  dimensions  of  our  artists' 
experiences,  these  themes  will  obviously  and  inevitably  find  their 
way  into  the  music. 

One  of  our  most  important  functions  as  a  company  is  to  amplify 
the  voices  of  African  American  youth  whose  experiences  have  his- 
torically been  ignored  by  mainstream  America.  Those  voices  are  at 
the  moment  articulating  bleak  scenarios  throughout  this  country. 
The  issue,  however,  is  not  whether  to  suppress,  regulate,  restrict, 
segregate  or  otherwise  curb  the  distribution  of  hip-hop  music. 
Rather,  the  issue  is  whether  we  as  a  community  and  a  Nation  are 
prepared  to  squarely  address  the  very  issues  that  have  given  rise 
to  the  lyrics  that  some  find  so  troubling.  That,  Mr.  Chairman,  is 
the  challenge. 

Thank  you. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  It  is  Madam  Chairman. 

Mr.  Harleston.  I  beg  your  pardon. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  If  I  may,  I  will  start  with  Mr. 
Harleston  and  work  back  and  then  go  to  Senator  Cohen.  There  is 
a  distinction,  is  there  not,  between  hip-hop  and  gangster  rap? 

Mr.  Harleston.  In  my  understanding,  hip-hop  is  a  genre  of 
music.  Gangster  rap,  as  I  have  heard  it  defined,  described,  reported 
by  others,  is  a  subset  of  that  genre. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  All  right,  and  the  specific  fact  is  that 
this  hearing  is  focused  on  particularly  the  gangster  rap  as  the  sub- 
set. It  was  that  genre  that  we  were  looking  at  because  that  was 
the  genre  that  glorifies  violence,  portrays  misogyny,  necrophilia,  et 
cetera.  Was  that  your  understanding,  because  I  think  it  is  impor- 
tant that  we  not  wind  up  wrapping  the  blanket  across  the  board 
of  hip-hop  around  the  issues  that  brought  us  here  today? 


Mr.  Harleston.  I  appreciate  that,  Senator.  It  was  my  under- 
standing that  the  purpose  of  the  hearing  was  to  explore  the  effect 
of  a  variety  of  lyrics,  specifically  lyrics  that  have  been  characterized 
as  misogynistic,  violent,  sexually  graphic,  on  its  listeners. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Mr.  Harleston,  you  also  made  the 
point,  as  has  been  made  by  Mr.  Butterworth,  Mr.  McKeever  and 
Ms.  Rosen — I  mean,  this  panel  has  made  the  point  that  the  issue 
here  is  the  root  causes  of  the  problem  and  that  society  has  an  obli- 
gation to  address  that  issue. 

But  I  would  turn  the  question  back  around  and  ask  what  specifi- 
cally has  this  industry  done  to  address  those  root  causes.  What 
specifically  has  the  industry  done  to  employ,  empower  or  otherwise 
be  responsive  to  these  young  people  who  are  making  this  music, 
who  are  expressing  the  conditions  in  the  community? 

Mr.  Harleston.  I  deeply  appreciate  the  question.  The  response 
is  really  on  several  levels.  At  its  most  basic  and  essential  level,  the 
industry  has  provided  these  artists  with  an  opportunity  to  get  mes- 
sages out  in  such  a  manner  that  we  are  having  a  hearing  today. 
Indeed,  some  would  argue  that  the  purposes  of  gangster  rap  are 
being  served  right  here  on  Capitol  Hill  as  we  discuss  some  of  these 
difficult  and  old  issues  relating  to  our  liberalization  and  develop- 
ment as  a  people. 

On  a  more  specific,  almost  kind  of  microeconomic  level,  if  you 
will,  Def  Jam  Recordings  has  an  employee  roster  almost  50  percent 
of  which  is  comprised  of  individuals  who  come  from  the  very  com- 
munities about  which  gangster  rappers  are  often  writing. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  But,  certainly,  Def  Jam  is  the  excep- 
tion and  not  the  rule  in  that  regard. 

Mr.  Harleston.  I  am  speaMng  on  behalf  of  Def  Jam,  being  a 
representative  of  Def  Jam. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  I  am  asking  you  the  general  question. 

Mr.  Harleston.  I  can't  respond  as  to  the  employee  rosters  of 
record  companies  that  are  not  mine,  but  if  I 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  We  will  ask  Ms.  Rosen.  Hold  your 

Ms.  Rosen,  do  you  have  the  answer  to  that  question? 

Ms.  Rosen.  As  to  whether  employees  of  record  companies  produc- 
ing rap  music  are  white? 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  I  asked  the  question  originally,  to 
what  extent  the  industry  was  being  responsive  to  the  root  causes 
that  everybody  here  concurs  are  the  basis  out  of  which  this  expres- 
sion springs,  and  Mr.  Harleston  started  to  say  that  his  company 
was  involved  in  hiring  youngsters  out  of  inner-city  communities. 
He  could  not  answer  the  question  with  regard  to  the  industry  as 
a  whole,  so  I  put  the  question  to  you. 

Ms.  Rosen.  Again,  as  David  said,  there  are  a  couple  of  levels.  I 
think  as  a  primary  level,  the  artists  themselves  are  very  involved 
in  their  communities.  I  gave  a  few  examples  of  some  of  the  things 
that  they  do.  They  do  that  not  only  with  themselves,  but  with  their 
producers  and  their  publicists  and  their  band  members  and  their 
musicians.  So  there  is  a  broad  cross-section  of  people  who  are  in 
this  business  who  are  in  their  community.  There  is  not  this  sort 
of  Chinese  wall  between  these  artists  and  their  community. 


I  think  the  second  issue  about  employment  and  who  these  com- 
panies actually  represent  or  comprise  is  more  difficult  to  answer, 
frankly.  I  think  some  background  on  the  financial  development  of 
so-called  gangster  rap  might  be  useful.  As  a  practical  matter,  rap 
music  did  not  start  with  major  record  companies.  You  heard  that 
from  the  previous  panel.  It  started  with  small,  independent  record 
companies  and  independent  artists  essentially  creating  this  music 
in  their  garages  and  distributing  it  out  of  the  trunks  of  their  cars. 

It  has  really  only  been  in  the  last  2  years  or  so  that  even  some 
of  the  significant  majors  have  picked  up  distribution  of  this  music, 
and  so  all  of  those  other  companies  still  exist. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  I  understand  that,  and  that  is  the  en- 
trepreneur argument  that  was  made  earlier  in  one  of  the  panels. 
I  am  talking  specifically  right  now,  Ms.  Rosen,  about  the  rest  of  the 
industry  that  has  picked  up  this  genre  or  this  subset  and  is  making 
money  from  it.  The  information  that  the  staff  has  provided  me  indi- 
cates that  some  of  the  larger  companies  making  the  most  out  of 
this  industry,  or  this  subset  of  the  industry,  which  we  again  have 
already  seen  is  in  the  millions,  if  not  billions,  of  dollars,  do  not 
have  minorities  in  the  policymaking,  decisionmaking  aspects. 

Priority,  specifically,  has  few  minority  employees  and  no  African 
Americans,  certainly,  in  power  positions  or  decisionmaking  posi- 
tions with  regard  to  the  company.  So  even  with  regard  to  the  pa- 
rental advisory,  which  you  say  is  decided  on  a  case-by-case  basis, 
there  is  nobody  from  the  community  that  is  going  to  be  impacted 
by  this  music  making  decisions  about  whether  or  not  the  sticker 
goes  on. 

Ms.  Rosen.  Well,  I  think  it  would  be  a  misrepresentation  to  say 
that  because  there  aren't  African  Americans  in  a  company  that 
somehow  they  don't  care  about  the  community  in  which  this  music 
is.  The  hip-hop  community  is  a  black  and  white  community.  I  think 
the  second  piece  is  that  as  an  overall  percentage  of  the  music  popu- 
lation, rap  actually  is  going  down.  It  is  not  going  up. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  I  understand,  Ms.  Rosen,  but  the  char- 
acterization you  make — that  is  not  the  point  I  am  making.  I  was 
asking  the  question  specifically,  to  what  extent  is  the  industry 
which  is  making  the  money,  making  profits  from  this  genre — to 
what  extent  is  that  industry  fully  opening  up  itself  to  decisionmak- 
ing, to  involvement,  input  from  the  communities  that  are  the  most 
affected  by  this  genre. 

Ms.  Rosen.  We  can  talk  about  a  couple  of  specific  companies. 
You  mentioned  Priority.  I  hate  to  say  this,  but  I  think  Priority  is 
more  the  exception  than  the  rule.  The  name  that  is  around  now  is 
Inner  Scope,  the  label  that  Snoop  Dog  is  on.  Yes,  it  is  distributed 
by  the  Warner  Music  Group,  but  the  reality  is  that  Death  Row 
Records  is  a  record  company  created  by  Shug  Nite  and  Dr.  Dre  and 
they  merely  went  to  Inner  Scope  for  their  distribution.  But  the 
music  is  created  by  these  artists  and  their  African  American  execu- 
tives making  those  decisions  about  what  to  put  on  their  music.  Def 
Jam  is  distributed  through  Sony,  a  major  corporation,  but  as  David 
will  tell  you,  that  is  who  makes  the  decision.  Are  there  rap  labels 
that  have  white  presidents?  Yes. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  That  is  not  exactly  the  point  I  am 
making.  We  started  with  your  testimony  regarding  the  decisions  on 


the  parental  advisory,  explicit  lyrics,  et  cetera,  and  by  the  time  we 
got  to  Mr.  Harleston  we  were  talking  about  responsibility  in  the  in- 
dustry. So  my  question,  which  I  thought  at  the  time  was  a  simple 
one,  and  I  don't  want  it  to  get  turned  on  its  head,  was  simply  with 
regard  to  the  industry,  number  one,  what  is  it  doing. 

Mr.  Harleston  started  talking  about  that  and  he  raised  the  ques- 
tion of  who  was  making  decisions  in  the  industry,  and  I  asked  him 
the  question,  then,  whether  or  not  members  of  the  community  that 
are  affected  by  this  industry  that  makes  money  from  this  genre 
were  represented  in  the  policymaking  and  the  decisionmaking  por- 
tions of  the  industry,  and  that  is  when  I  put  that  question  to  you. 
It  is  not  intended  to  be  antagonistic  and  I  am  not 

Ms.  Rosen.  I  understand.  I  am  trying  to  explain  it.  I  think  that 
perhaps  a  more  responsive  answer  would  be  that  really  the  indus- 
try is  not  a  monolith.  It  is  comprised  of  very  large  corporations  and 
very  small  corporations,  you  know,  two  and  three  people. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  But  the  large  corporations  are  using 
the  small  corporations  with  regard  to  this  aspect  of  their  distribu- 
tion, if  what  you  just  said 

Ms.  Rosen.  I  am  not  sure  what  you  mean  by  the  word  "using," 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  You  mentioned  that  distribution  with 
regard  to 

Senator  Cohen.  As  I  understand  it,  Def  Jam 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Def  Jam  is  with  Sony. 

Senator  Cohen.  Def  Jam  is  distributed  by  Columbia,  which  is 
owned  by  Sony,  which  is  ironic  in  view  of  the  statements  made  by 
Japan  about  blacks  in  America. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Here  we  are.  Warner 

Mr.  Harleston.  Def  Jam  is  distributed  by  Sony  Music  Enter- 
tainment, Inc.  Our  label  affiliation  is  Columbia  Records. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  These  are  the  six  international  compa- 
nies that  dominate  the  manufacturing  and  distribution:  Warner, 
Thom-EMI-PLC,  Sony,  Matsushita,  Bertelsmann  AG,  and  Philips 
Electronic.  So  to  the  extent  that  there  are  linkages  between  these 
companies  as  distributors  of  the  particular  genre  that  we  are  ad- 
dressing today,  I  guess  I  turn  to  you  looking  for  information. 

Ms.  Rosen.  Well,  there  are  linkages,  but  what  I  am  suggesting 
is  those  aren't  the  only  linkages  and  that  music  doesn't  only  get  out 
there  through  these  six  major  distribution  networks.  The  independ- 
ent network  in 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  We  still  have  the  back-of-the-trunk  op- 

Ms.  Rosen.  The  independent  network  in  rap  music  is  very 
strong.  I  think  that  because  one  or  two  hit  records  really  going 
through  some  of  those  major  distributions  got  a  lot  of  fame  this 
year  that  all  of  a  sudden  there  became  this  perception 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  But,  certainly,  Ms.  Rosen — again,  I 
don't  want  to  be  combative  here  and  I 

Ms.  Rosen.  And  I  don't  want  to  protect  majors  at  the  expense 
of  small  companies. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Let  us  be  clear.  I  am  just  trying  to  get 
information.  That  is  the  purpose  of  a  hearing. 

Ms.  Rosen.  Right. 


Senator  Moseley-Braun.  To  the  extent  that  you  have  someone 
selhng  this  stuff  out  of  the  trunk  of  a  car,  its  distribution  and  its 
promotion  is  going  to  be  limited.  To  the  extent  that  you  have  an 
international  worldwide  corporation  with  unlimited  resources,  its 
distribution  and  its  promotion  is  going  to  be  wider. 

If  we  start  with  the  proposition  that  some  aspects  of  this  genre 
have  a  connection,  or  not — and  that  is  what  the  hearing  is  about — 
to  conduct  and  to  the  conditions  in  the  community — now,  which 
came  first,  the  chicken  or  the  egg,  is  what  we  are  talking  about 
right  now,  whether  the  conditions  bred  the  expression  or  the  ex- 
pressions are  helping  to  feed  back  and  breed  the  conditions. 

But,  certainly,  to  the  extent  that  we  exacerbate  distribution  and 
the  promulgation  of  this  information,  then  the  big  guys,  the  big 
companies,  bear,  I  would  think,  a  greater  responsibility  to  the  com- 
munity than  the  kids  selling  something  out  of  the  trunk  of  their 

Ms.  Rosen.  I  think  that  is  fair,  but  the  irony  in  that  reality  is 
that  it  wasn't  until  you  had  some  major  distribution  into  the  Music 
Lands  and  the  Sam  Goodys  and  the  mall  stores  that  the  music  got 
into  the  suburbs.  It  wasn't  like  the  music  was  created  there  and 
it  came  into  the  inner  city.  It  sort  of  ended  up  going  the  other  way 
anound,  so  eliminating  the  major  distribution  function  does  not 
solve,  I  think,  the  issue  that  we  are  getting  to  about  the  effect  on 
inner-city  kids. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  No,  and  please  understand.  Frankly, 
having  heard  in  this  particular  hearing  the  testimony  today,  I  don't 
know  that  there  is  a  single  silver  bullet  that  solves  the  problem. 
I  mean,  if  anjrthing,  we  are  looking  at  a  range  of  things  and  we 
are  talking  about  what  is  the  universe  of  responses  that  make 

I  have  to  take  issue — I  forget  who  it  was  who  kept  throwing  the 
word  "censorship"  around.  We  are  not  looking  to  censor.  I  mean,  I 
feel  very  strongly  about  the  first  amendment.  I  feel  very  strongly 
about  artistic  freedom,  but  this  goes  to  the  point  of  being  an  ex- 
pression of  a  pathology  that  has  been  at  least  testified  to  as  being 
artively  injurious.  So  the  question  becomes  where  is  the  respon- 
sibility and  what,  if  anything,  can  we  do. 

Now,  Government  only  has  a  particular  set  of  responses  that  we 
can  undertake.  The  private  sector,  your  industry,  has  a  set  of  re- 
sponses that  it  can  take,  and  part  of  this  examination  and  the  rea- 
son for  this  industry  panel  was  to  begin  to  discuss  what  were  the 
proposals,  what  were  the  steps,  what  were  the  possibilities  for  us 
in  terms  of  a  response,  and  to  be  responsible  and  to  protect  our 

So,  that  is  all  I  am  putting  to  you  and,  again,  I  am  not  attempt- 
ing to  be  combative  with  this. 

Ms.  Rosen.  I  understand. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Mr.  Harleston,  you  started  this. 

Mr.  Harleston.  I  beg  your  pardon.  [Laughter.] 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  With  regard  to  this  part,  yes,  please, 
Mr.  Harleston. 

Mr.  Harleston.  Yes,  thank  you.  I  just  wanted  to  round  it  out 
because  I  do  think  it  is  important  as  you  are  attempting  to  under- 
stand the  nexus  between  the  artist  and  the  source  of  the  expres- 


sion.  Our  artists,  for  example,  do  not  just  simply  make  music  that 
is  important  and  that  in  some  cases  is  angry,  have  us  distribute 
the  music  and  believe  they  are  doing  their  part.  They  routinely  are 
involved  in  activities  that  put  them  back  into  the  community,  that 
attempt  to  demonstrate  to  the  community  that  there  are  solutions, 
there  are  ways  out. 

Examples:  We  routinely  use  a  portion  of  every  video  shoot  to 
record  what  we  call  PSA's,  public  service  announcements,  embody- 
ing the  artist,  obviously,  voice  and  image.  A  current  artist  of  ours 
named  Domino  has  done  safe  sex,  stay  in  school.  Black  History 
Month.  EPMD,  LL  Cool  J,  Nice  and  Smooth  and  other  artists  of 
ours  routinely  do  that  as  well. 

We  as  an  entity  assisted  LL  Cool  J  last  summer  in  the  founding 
of  an  organization  called  Camp  Cool  J,  which  is  designed  to  iden- 
tify between  20  and  30  inner-city  kids  who  compete  on  an  academic 
basis  for  the  right  to  spend  2  weeks,  free  of  charge,  at  Camp  Cool 
J  in  upstate  New  York. 

I  frankly  don't  want  to  bore  you  with  the  list  of  involvements, 
but  I  did  want  to  make  the  point,  and  I  think  it  is  important  that 
it  be  understood,  that  the  nexus  between  the  artist,  the  message 
and  the  problem  goes  way  beyond  the  music  and  extends,  and  this 
includes  Def  Jam  as  well,  to  efforts  to  rehabilitate  the  very  envi- 
ronments which  have  created  the  difficulties  that  are  embodied  in 
the  lyrics. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Senator  Cohen? 

Senator  Cohen.  Thank  you,  Madam  Chairwoman.  Mr.  McKeever, 
I  came  in  in  the  very  middle  of  your  statement  and  didn't  hear  it 
in  its  entirety  and,  Ms.  Rosen,  I  missed  yours  altogether,  but  I 
v/ould  like  to  follow  up  on  a  theme  which  seems  pretty  consistently 
held  by  the  panel.  Before  doing  so,  I  just  want  to  continue  the  line 
of  thought  expressed  by  Senator  Moseley-Braun. 

I  am  familiar  with  the  book  business  and  books  don't  make  it  to 
the  bestseller  lists  when  they  are  produced  by  small,  little  inde- 
pendent publishers.  There  are  exceptions,  but  they  are  rare  excep- 
tions. Books  make  it  to  the  top  when  you  have  big  money  behind 
you  in  the  way  of  publishers  and  distributors.  You  can  write  all  the 
grand  novels  and  nonfiction  you  like.  If  you  don't  have  the  distribu- 
tion outlet,  it  doesn't  happen. 

What  Senator  Moseley-Braun  was  saying  is  you  can  have  these 
small,  back-of-the-truck  or  back-of-the-car  producers.  Unless  you 
have  big  money  behind  you,  it  is  unlikely,  with  some  exceptions, 
that  you  will  make  it  to  the  top  of  the  ladder.  That  is  where  either 
Columbia  or  Sony  or  any  of  the  others  come  in.  They  have  picked 
up  on  hip-hop  or  rap  and  really  made  some  money  at  it,  and  this 
is  really  what  we  are  talking  about,  going  to  the  bank.  That  is 
what  you  are  in  the  business  for  in  the  recording  industry. 

I  wanted  to  talk  just  a  moment  about  the  first  amendment  and 
ask  each  of  you  as  to  whether  you  feel  there  are  any  limitations 
upon  the  first  amendment.  I  didn't  detect  any  sentiment  on  that. 
Mr.  Butterworth  and  Mr.  McKeever  as  well  seemed  to  think  that 
whatever  is  out  there  can  be  turned  into  art,  and  as  long  as  it  ex- 
ists we  shouldn't  have  any  interference  as  long  as  we  call  it  art. 
Am  I  oversimplifying  that? 

Mr.  McKeever.  Yes,  I  think  you  are. 


Ms.  Rosen.  Yes.  Of  course,  there  are  limits  to  the  first  amend- 

Senator  Cohen.  What  are  the  Umits  in  your  mind,  Ms.  Rosen? 

Ms.  Rosen.  The  limits  are  the  limits  that  the  Supreme  Court  has 
already  determined.  There  are  obscenity  standards.  There  are 
standards  that  apply  to  minors.  You  know,  the  issue  with  music, 
however,  that  is  a  tough  one  for  us  is  that  there  have  never  been 
those  standards  that  have  been  upheld  with  respect  to  music.  The 
case  that  you  mentioned,  "As  Nasty  As  They  Wanna  Be,"  was  be- 
fore a  court  last  year  and  a  court  determined — I  think  Dr.  Tucker 
referenced  this  earlier — a  lower  court  decided  that  this  was  ob- 
scene. It  was  overturned  by  the  Eleventh  Circuit  Court  of  Appeals 
and  the  circuit  court  was  upheld  by  the  Supreme  Court. 

So  we  are  not  saying  that  there  aren't  limits  to  the  first  amend- 
ment. There  are.  We  are  just  saying  that  it  is  awfully  difficult  in 
the  case  of  music  to  apply  them  in  a  reasonable  way  without  deal- 
ing with  access. 

Senator  Cohen.  Most  of  you  have  indicated  art  is  simply  imita- 
tive of  life.  I  suppose  you  could  go  down  the  list.  Murder  is  part 
of  life,  rape  is  part  of  life,  pedophilia  is  part  of  life.  Should  we  in 
any  way  glorify  that  because  it  is  out  there? 

Ms.  Rosen.  I  don't  ask  you  to  condemn  or  applaud  any  particular 
artist's  activities.  I  think  Luther  Campbell's  records  are  offensive 
and  I  think  they  are  disgusting  and  I  wouldn't  buy  them,  but  I 
don't  think  that  is  the  issue.  Again,  it  goes  back  to  the  idea  of  this 
community  of  companies  and  artists  is  not  a  single  community. 

Senator  Cohen.  Mr.  McKeever,  I  am  told  that  I  mischaracterized 
your  testimony,  that  you  did  express  a  belief  that  there  should  be 
some  restrictions. 

Mr.  McKeever.  Yes. 

Senator  Cohen.  Would  you  amplify  that  for  me  so  I  will  know 
what  you  have  in  mind? 

Mr.  McKeever.  What  I  basically  said  was  that  I  sort  of  follow 
what  Hilary  Rosen  just  said  on  the  characterization  and  who 
makes  the  characterization,  and  I  think  that  is  a  very  dangerous 
arena.  However,  I  said  the  things  that  we  can  see  and  talk  about 
as  objectionable — I  think  there  are  several  examples,  whether  it  is 
in  music,  whether  it  is  on  TV,  whether  it  is  on  cable,  whether  it 
is  in  video  games,  or  whatever.  My  basic  statement  was  that  all 
material  is  not  appropriate  for  all  ages. 

Senator  COHEN.  Who  makes  the  decisions?  What  we  would  like 
to  know  is  when  something  like  "As  Nasty  As  They  Wanna  Be"  and 
the  one  particular  lyric  on  the  chart  which  has  now  been  covered 
up  as  being  unfit  for  human  consumption  as  far  as  the  television 
cameras  are  concerned — who  makes  the  decisions  as  to  whether 
that  is  art,  metaphor,  poetic  inspiration?  Who  makes  those  kinds 
of  decisions,  at  what  level?  Mr.  Harleston,  perhaps  you  could  tell 

Mr.  Harleston.  I  think  a  couple  of  bodies  or  entities  or  individ- 
uals. As  to  whether  or  not  it  is  sufficiently  obscene  to  prohibit  its 
sale,  I  think  a  competent  court  of  law  makes  that  decision.  As  to 
whether  it  is 

Senator  Cohen.  The  industry  makes  no  such  screening? 


Mr.  Harleston.  Let  me  finish  and  then  I  will  return  to  your  spe- 
cific questions. 

Senator  Cohen.  I  am  sorry.  Go  ahead. 

Mr.  Harleston.  As  to  whether  it  is  so  offensive  to  be  inappropri- 
ate to  a  minor,  for  example,  I  think  very  clearly  a  parent  makes 
that  decision  and  is  guided  by  the  parental  advisory  explicit  lyrics 

Senator  COHEN.  Do  you  think  the  parents  are  going  in  and  buy- 
ing the  tapes  in  the  stores? 

Mr.  Harleston.  I  would  hope  that  parents  are  sufficiently  in- 
volved in  their  kids'  lives  that  they  do  know  what  kind  of  music 
they  are  listening  to  and  they  are  involved  in  the  selections.  I  think 
that  kind  of  relationship  would  not  only  obviate  the  issues  before 
us  today,  but  might  also  give  some  insight  to  parents  into  the  kinds 
of  issues  that  kids  are  focusing  on  both  in  terms  of  listening  and 
making  the  music. 

Candidly,  I  think  that  the  engagement  at  that  point  would  be  an 
engagement  about  the  background,  underlying  issues  and  less 
about  the  what  have  been  referred  to  as  symptomatic  issues  such 
as  the  lyrics. 

Ms.  Rosen.  Let  me  also  address,  if  I  might,  that  issue.  Senator, 
because  6-year-olds  don't  buy  records. 

Senator  COHEN.  Do  6-year-olds  listen  to  records? 

Ms.  Rosen.  People  talking  earlier  about  6-year-olds  buying 
records — that  just  is  not  the  case. 

Senator  Cohen.  We  have  13-year-olds  killing  people. 

Ms.  Rosen.  Thirteen-year-olds  do  buy  records,  and  I  think  that 
the  issue  for  retailers  as  they  have  gone  into  this  has  been  that 
there  have  been  significant  retailer  attempts,  and  many  retailers 
do  prohibit  the  sale  of  stickered  recordings  to  minors. 

You  see  by  the  statement  that  I  think  was  submitted  for  the 
record  by  the  National  Association  of  Recording  Merchandisers, 
which  is  the  retailers  trade  group,  that  there  has  been  in  many 
cases  just  as  much  community  outcry  by  those  parents  who  have 
been  offended  by  restrictive  sales  policies,  unfortunately,  as  there 
have  been  by  those  who  have  wanted  them.  I  think  that  the  key 
piece  for  us  to  understand  is  that  the  parental  advisory  logo  is  not 
going  to  replace  any  activity  outside  the  home. 

The  other  thing  the  industry  has  done  on  top  of  the  retailer  out- 
reach is  that  record  companies  and  retailers  take  back  every  single 
record  now  that  any  parent  who  objects  to  what  their  kids  have 
brought  home  back  into  the  store. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Let  me  interject.  One  of  the  issues 
that  I  have — and  this  is  not  in  direct  response  to  the  last  statement 
you  just  made,  Ms.  Rosen.  What  I  am  hearing  is  a  lot  of  denial  and 
finger-pointing.  I  mean,  it  is  society's  fault,  it  is  the  kids'  fault.  Mr. 
Butterworth,  you  say  the  Congress  doesn't  care  about  the  kids.  We 
wouldn't  be  sitting  here  all  day  if  we  didn't  care  about  the  kids.  I 
mean,  that  is  the  fact  of  the  matter. 

The  Congress  shouldn't  do  anything.  Government  doesn't  have  a 
role  here  to  regulate.  The  industry  is  not  going  to  regulate.  We  are 
going  to  suggest  to  record  companies  that  they  make  individual  de- 
cisions about  this,  but  the  record  companies  themselves  have  li- 
cense to  decide.  The  industry  as  a  whole,  the  people  who  make 


money  from  this — you  know,  in  the  big  picture,  macroeconomics — 
don't  have  a  role  to  play.  It  is  up  to  the  individual  label. 

With  regard  to  the  stores,  the  RIAA  was  on  record  as  saying  that 
you  didn't  want  the  stores  to  decide.  When  Music  Land,  which  is 
a  large  retail  record  store,  stated  they  would  keep  a  list  of  the  most 
explicit  albums  and  would  not  sell  those  products  to  people  under 
18  years  old,  RIAA  fired  back  a  response  that  said: 

Such  a  list  is  not  in  keeping  with  the  RIAA's  idea  of  how  the  labeling  system 
should  work.  The  system  was  not  designated  for  store  managers  to  decide  what  gets 

Ms.  Rosen.  We  did  say  that  2  years  ago  and  we  have  changed. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Oh,  good.  Well,  can  we  see  what  the 
change  is? 

Ms.  Rosen.  Well,  the  change  is  that  we  no  longer  have  that  com- 
munication with  retailers;  in  fact,  just  the  opposite.  We  have  had 
the  liberal  returns  policies.  We  have  had  the  communications  with 
retailers  about  trying  to  be  more  understanding  when  they  are 
more  responsive  with  their  communities,  and  I  think  that  you  can 
talk  to  the 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Would  you  provide  that  information  to 
this  committee? 

Ms.  Rosen.  Sure,  and  the  retailers  association  will  do  that  as 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  And  the  second 

Ms.  Rosen.  Could  I  just  address  the  head-in-the-sand  issue  be- 
cause I  think  it  is  really  important? 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Go  ahead. 

Ms.  Rosen.  We  are  not  sticking  our  head  in  the  sand.  We  are  not 
sa3dng  that  there  isn't  music  that  is  unsettling  and  offensive  and 
that  there  isn't  music  that  might  hurt  kids  who  are  10  years  old 
just  as  much  as,  you  know,  the  evening  news  or  any  other  violent 
act  would.  I  think  what  we  are  saying  is  that  it  is  extraordinarily 
difficult  to  take  what  we  get  presented  with  and  to  suggest  some- 
how that  there  is  a  solution  when  I  am  not  even  sure  that  we  have 
really  identified  the  issues. 

So  the  industry  is  trying  to  take  some  positive  steps.  We  are 
more  actively  monitoring  the  parental  advisory  logo.  In  fact,  2 
weeks  ago  at  Cardiss  Collins'  hearing  in  the  House  we  were  ad- 
vised of  two  records  that  should  have  been  stickered  by  any  reason- 
able standard  and  were  not.  They  didn't  happen  to  be  RIAA  mem- 
ber companies,  but  we  sent  a  letter  to  those  companies  and  to 
every  single  one  of  the  companies  we  have  any  affiliation  with  re- 
minding them  of  the  appropriate  use  of  the  parental  advisory  logo. 

Senator  Cohen.  Mr.  Butterworth,  I  had  a  copy  of  some  lyrics  dis- 
tributed. Have  you  had  a  chance  to  read  them? 

Mr.  Butterworth.  I  have  had  a  chance  to  read  them. 

Senator  COHEN.  Would  you  feel  comfortable  in  reciting  them  for 
the  public  here  today? 

Mr.  Butterworth.  I  would  prefer  not  to. 

Senator  Cohen.  Why  is  that? 

Mr.  Butterworth.  I  find  them  inappropriate  for  this  forum.  I 
don't  know  who  is  watching  on  television.  There  may  be  young  chil- 
dren for  whom  this  kind  of  sexual  imagery  is  not  appropriate  and 
I  am  not  going  to  make  that  decision  for  those  young  people,  as  I 


believe  this  body,  this  Government,  ought  not  to  make  the  decision 
about  what  is  and  what  is  not  appropriate.  I  don't  think  young  peo- 
ple elected  anyone  to  make  decisions  about  what  they  should  hear 
and  what  they  shouldn't  hear. 

Senator  Cohen.  Ms.  Rosen,  we  are  not  looking  for  solutions.  We 
are  questioning  whether  there  are  any  standards  left  at  all  within 
the  industry,  or  do  you  just  say,  look,  take  it  to  court.  If  we  get 
to  the  Supreme  Court  and  they  rule  against  us,  so  be  it,  we  will 
take  it  off?  But  absent  that 

Ms.  Rosen.  The  marketplace  really  has  a  lot  more  standards 
than  you  give  it  credit  for.  Again,  to  go  back  to  the  Luther  Camp- 
bell example — and  Steve,  I  think,  can  respond  to  this  as  well — he 
actually  does  not  have  a  major  record  label  contract  an3rmore.  His 
records  are  not  really  selling.  People  really  know  whether  this 
music  means  something  and  speaks  to  issues  or  whether  it  doesn't. 
Things  that  speak  to  kids,  kids  buy.  Things  that  don't  speak  to 
kids,  they  don't  buy. 

Again,  I  go  back  to  this  other  issue,  and  I  don't  want  to  denigrate 
rap  as  a  category,  but  as  an  overall  percentage  of  the  music  market 
rap  is  going  down.  Whitney  Houston  sells  more  records  than  Snoop 
Doggy  Dog.  Now,  why  wouldn't  we  say  that  kids  are  taking  the 
Whitney  Houston  example  and  embracing  it  and  loving  it  when  the 
industry  spends  far  more  money  promoting  Whitney  Houston  than 
they  do  promoting  Snoop  Doggy  Dog?  I  think  the  answer  is  some- 
thing else  is  drawing  those  kids  to  that  music,  and  that  is  the  only 
thing  that  we  are  suggesting  that  they  pay  attention  to,  is  that  the 
context  of  the  industry  is  much  broader  and  much  more  sensitive 

Senator  COHEN.  I  come  back  to  the  point  that  Senator  Moseley- 
Braun  made  before.  We  are  not  searching  for  fault.  I  think  it  was 
Ms.  Britt  in  the  Post  article  who  said  it  may  not  be  our  fault,  but 
it  is  our  funeral,  meaning  those  who  live  within  the  inner  cities  for 
the  most  part  are  the  ones  who  are  doing  the  dying. 

I  raised  in  my  opening  comments  the  question  about  Mr. 
Farrakhan,  and  the  reason  I  raised  it  is  because  he  and  others 
have  said  some  pretty  provocative  things  and  it  has  enraged  a 
number  of  people.  It  has  been  directed  at  a  number  of  people;  it 
has  been  directed  outward.  It  has  been  directed  towards  Catholics, 
the  Pope.  It  has  been  directed  toward  Jews.  It  has  been  directed 
toward  homosexuals  and  others,  but  it  is  a  message  not  of  hope, 
but  one  of  hate  in  many  cases. 

If  you  could  put  some  of  the  message  in  the  form  of  lyrics  and 
make  it  a  rap  song,  which  wouldn't  be  hard  to  do,  and  if  there  is 
a  market  out  there  for  it,  would  a  major  recording  company  be  un- 
interested? Apparently,  according  to  Time,  there  are  people  who 
are  listening  and  believing  some  of  what  they  say,  if  not  all  of  what 
they  say.  Would  that  be  something  that  would  be  appropriate  to 
get  out  into  the  mainstream?  Would  we  be  interested  in  doing  that? 
I  suspect  not,  and  it  seems  to  me  I  suspect  not  because  it  is  hitting 
the  types  of  people  or  groups  who  would  come  down  pretty  heavy 
and  say,  wait  a  minute,  that  is  unacceptable. 

But  when  you  are  talking  about  degrading  black  women,  as  some 
of  these  songs  do,  no  one  is  raising  much  objections.  They  are  say- 
ing, that  is  just  sort  of  the  way  it  is,  that  is  the  value,  that  is  what 



they  are  singing  and  it  is  OK.  Really,  the  question  is,  is  it  OK.  Is 
this  something  that  you  really  feel  we  ought  to  be  promoting? 

Mr.  McKeever.  I  think  that  that  is,  again,  an  individual  decision 
because  just  as  you  are  able  to  characterize  Farrakhan's  words, 
and  you  may  be  in  the  majority,  that  message  in  someone's  ears 
in  prison  or 

Senator  Cohen.  I  agree.  It  may  seem  like  hate  to  me  and  it 
might  seem  like  hope  to  somebody  else.  The  question  I  have  is 
would  the  recording  industry  or  those  in  the  publishing  business 
start  to  promote  it  because  there  is  a  marketplace  out  there  of  peo- 
ple who  would  fmd  hope  in  it.  I  dare  say  that  there  are  enough  dif- 
ferent elements  in  our  society  to  say,  no,  that  it  is  not  acceptable 
to  take  on  the  Pope,  that  it  is  not  acceptable  to  attack  an  entire 
group,  and  they  would  come  down  heavy  on  this. 

Mr.  McKeever.  I  agree.  I  think  what  the  problem  is  there  is  if 
Minister  Farrakhan  wanted  to  get  a  book  deal,  he  would  have  no 
problem  in  finding  a  publisher  in  the  industry  that  you  are  familiar 
with  to  express  his  views.  I  wasn't  here  really  to  even  talk  on  the 
first  amendment  issue,  but  I  feel  it  is  very  important  that  all  views 
should  have  their  forum.  That,  again,  is  a  decision.  If  you  sort  of 
characterize  it  as  is  this  something  we  ought  to  do,  I  think  the 
marketplace  really — using  that  example,  whether  Farrakhan 
should  be  able  to  put  a  book  out,  I  don't  think  that  there  should 
be  anybody  that  says,  no,  he  cannot  say  the  things  that  he  believes, 
the  messages  he  wants  to  get  out.  That  is  what  is  dangerous  to  me. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  I  think  the  problem  here — and,  again, 
I  am  trying  to  find  places  for  consensus.  I  mean,  I  think  that  rath- 
er than  having  controversy,  somewhere  there  is  a  ground  here 
where  we  can  agree  on  some  steps  to  be  taken  that  will  represent 
many  of  the  views  that  have  been  expressed  here  today. 

Let  me  start  off"  in  terms  of  Mr.  Butterworth's  statement.  When 
you  talk  about  kids,  there  is  a  distinction  between — when  you  said 
the  grown-ups,  that  makes  me  a  grown-up.  I  don't  know  if  that 
makes  you  a  kid  or  not,  but  whatever,  there  is  a  difference  between 
the  two  of  us  and  somebody  who  is  11  or  12.  Let  us  start  with  that. 

With  regard  to  young  children,  it  seems  to  me  to  be  facile  to  take 
the  first  amendment  and  use  that  as  the  screen  behind  which  they 
get  exploited,  and  it  is  the  exploitation  of  young  children  that 
brings  us  to  this  hearing  today.  With  regard  to  that,  I  have  got  to 
believe  that  reasonable  people  can  find  some  basis  for  consensus. 
We  have  to  be  able  to  find  some  way  that  we  can  protect  our  chil- 
dren because  otherwise  what  you  are  begging  and  asking  for  is  we 
are  going  to  hold  up  the  specter  of  the  first  amendment  and  we  are 
going  to  dare  you  in  the  Congress  to  take  some  steps  in  this  regard 
because  we  in  the  industry  are  not  prepared  to  do  it  ourselves.  So 
when  you  talk  about  responsibility,  I  think  that  there  has  got  to 
be  a  balance  and  that  the  private  sector  has  as  much  obligation  to 
be  responsible  as  anyone  else. 

Mr.  McKeever.  I  think  if  you  took  what  I  was  just  saying  in  re- 
sponse to  Senator  Cohen,  it  may  have  been  misinterpreted. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  I  am  sorry,  then. 

Mr.  McKeever.  Really,  I  do  feel  that  all  material  is  not  appro- 
priate for  all  ages.  I  think  there  should  be  a  distinction. 


Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Is  there  a  rating  by  age  by  this  indus- 

Mr.  McKeever.  No,  but 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Is  there  a  reason  why  there  is  no  rat- 
ing by  age? 

Ms.  Rosen.  Well,  I  think  there  are  several  reasons,  and  I  guess 
it  gets  to  the  issue  I  was  just  going  to  say.  You  know,  I  am  trying 
to  be  responsive  and  I  understand  your  good  motives,  but  maybe 
I  could  try  and  come  up  with  a  practical  example.  Queen  Latifah 
maybe  would  be  a  good  example.  If  you  have  a  rating  system  based 
on  dirty  words,  you  are  somehow  suggesting  that  dirty  words  are 
bad  images  and  clean  words  are  good  images. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  It  is  not  that  simplistic,  Ms.  Rosen. 

Ms.  Rosen.  Well,  I  agree  with  you.  It  is  not  that  simplistic  and 
so  our  problem  is  how  you  determine  the  subjective  nature.  Queen 
Latifah  uses  the  word — I  can  say  this;  it  has  been  said  today — uses 
the  words  "bitch"  and  "ho"  a  lot  in  her  music,  but  she  is  very  posi- 
tive and  empowering  and  feminist  about  the  use  of  those  words.  So 
what  do  you  do  with  that?  Do  you  make  that  an  x-rated  record?  I 
am  being  serious.  How  would  you  deal  with  that? 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  But  just  as  you  make  decisions  about 
parental  advisory  on  explicit  lyrics  and  the  movie  industry  makes 
decisions  about  what  is  an  X  versus  a  XX  versus  an  R  versus  a 
whatever,  those  decisions — again,  if  they  are  not  made  by  the  in- 
dustry, then  you  invite  them  to  be  made  by  someone  else. 

Ms.  Rosen.  It  is  a  very  fair  comparison,  and  I  think  what  we 
have  confronted  was  that  if  you  make  those  decisions  on  the  basis 
of  we  think  that  there  is  something  in  this  record  that  you  should 
really  take  an  extra  close  look  at,  we  think  it  still  is  good  music, 
but  we  think  that  parents  and  guardians  and  adults  should  pay  at- 
tention if  kids  listen  to  this,  that  is  a  very  different  decision  to 
make  than  to  say  we  don't  believe  that  anybody  under  18  should 
have  access  to  this. 

I  think  music  ends  up  being  so  lyrical  and  more  subjective  and 
more  image-connoting,  it  is  extraordinarily  difficult.  I  spend  a  lot 
of  time  with  the  Motion  Picture  Association  and  their  ratings 
boards  and  they  literally  have  a  graph.  So  if  you  have  3  body  parts 
here  and  4  words  here  within  15  minutes  here,  it  is  just  extraor- 
dinarily difficult  to  come  down  to  that  kind  of  a  tactical  place  with 
music,  which  is  so  subjective. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  But,  again,  the  parent  can  buy  that 
music  for  their  10-year-old  if  they  want  to.  It  seems  to  me  not  ask- 
ing a  whole  lot  for  the  industry  to  put  something  on  there  that  says 
anybody  under  18  should  not  be  encouraged  to 

Ms.  Rosen.  That  is  what  we  do.  That  is  what  the  logo  is  in- 
tended to  do. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Again,  this  is  not  to  be  a  dialogue  be- 
tween the  two  of  us,  and  we  have  another  panel.  Let  me  thank  you 
all  very  much  for  your  testimony  and  for  your  contribution.  Thank 
you,  and  we  will  go  to  the  last  panel. 

Let  me  call  Errol  James,  Laura  Murphy  Lee,  Dionne  Warwick, 
Keith  Ridley  and  Wallace  Bradley  to  the  witness  table.  I  have  to 
warn  you,  because  all  of  the  previous  speakers  took  more  than 
their  5  minutes,  we  have  the  superintendent  ready  to  run  us  out 


of  here.  So  we  are  going  to  have  to  really  speed  along,  unfortu- 
nately, with  the  last  panel.  One  of  the  problems  with  having  an  in- 
teresting subject  is  that  everybody  has  something  to  say  and  a  lot 
to  say  about  it,  but  let  us  try  to  be  as  prompt  with  this  as  we  can. 

In  the  interests  of  quasi-Congressional  courtesy,  I  am  going  to 
call  Ms.  Warwick,  actually,  first,  to  start  this  panel.  I  want  to 
thank  each  of  you  for  participating,  and  I  am  certain  we  will  get 
a  chance  to  hear  from  each  of  you,  but  just  to  give  you  warning 
that  we  really  have  to  be  on  a  fast  track  this  time  around. 

Ms.  Warwick? 



Ms.  Warwick.  Thank  you  to  all  who  are  assembled  here  today 
for  this  most  important  hearing  of  testimony  regarding  the  effect 
of  a  recorded  form  of  communication  called  gangster  rap.  I  must 
say  how  pleased  how  I  am  to  be  able  to  be  with  you  to  personally 
deliver  this  passionate  concern  that  I  have  about  this  subject  and 
to  personally  say  thank  you  to  the  Honorable  Senator  Moseley- 
Braun,  who  has  bravely  given  me  and  others  the  opportunity  to  be 
able  to  express  our  concern  or  lack  of  concern. 

As  a  single  parent,  an  African  American  woman,  a  recording  art- 
ist for  the  last  30  years,  a  daughter,  a  sister,  an  aunt,  a  girl  friend 
and  one  of  the  co-chairs  of  the  National  Political  Congress  of  Blaclc 
Women,  Incorporated,  Entertainment  Committee,  I  feel  that  with 
the  graphic  and  the  continued  exposure  to  violence,  sexual  activi- 
ties usually  reserved  and  expressed  in  the  privacy  of  our  bedrooms 
and  the  appalling,  abusive  use  of  words  in  description  of  women, 
specifically  African  American  women,  via  a  medium  that  has  long 
been  regarded  as  the  easiest  way  to  get  a  message  across,  record- 
ings, and  now  with  the  additional  help  of  video  used  to  enhance 
these  recorded  messages,  I  am  compelled  to  ask  those  who  supply 
these  recordings  and  videos  what  and  how  do  you  think  the  moth- 
ers, grandmothers,  sisters,  aunts,  wives,  girl  friends  of  these  pro- 
viders of  gangster  rap  products  feel  each  time  any  one  of  these  re- 
cordings are  played  or  videos  shown  depicting  and  expounding  total 
disrespect  and  disregard  for  the  African  American  woman,  specifi- 
cally, and  women  generally. 

I  am  also  wondering  as  I  sat  and  thought  how  to  begin,  and  I 
guess  it  is  by  asking  why  do  we  have  to  give  testimony  defending 
the  most  responsible  moral  attitude  by  finally  protesting  to  the  dig- 
nifying of  pornography  and  obscenity  in  its  highest  and  most 
graphic  form  when,  to  my  understanding,  it  is  against  one  of  the 
most  misused  amendments,  that  being  the  first  amendment,  when, 
in  fact,  we  are  here  to  regulate  strenuously  as  we  do  all  other  por- 
nographic visual,  audio  materials.  However,  if  testimony  is  to  be 


given  by  me,  that  is  what  we  will  do.  We  will  testify,  and  I  can, 
and  most  certainly  will  speak  for  myself. 

I  personally  am  hurt,  I  am  angered,  I  am  disappointed,  and  will 
no  longer  sit  passively  allowing  this  degradation  to  be  continued  by 
our  children.  In  short,  I  am  tired  and  I  have  had  enough.  When 
will  responsibility  be  demanded  to  deny  the  glorification  and  pro- 
motion of  violence  with  guns,  knives,  the  use  of  drugs,  denigration 
and  defamation  of  women,  and  now  the  explicit  pornographic  art 
work  accompanying  these  recordings?  When  will  responsibility  be 
demanded  by  all  to  deny  the  continuing  images  that  degrade  our 
dignity,  insult  our  families,  stunt  the  emotions  of  our  children,  and 
most  importantly  our  communities? 

If  the  continuance  of  negative  exposure  by  a  medium  that  is 
showing  distorted  look  at  images  of  male-female  relationships,  the 
constant  undermining  of  our  family  stability,  encouragement  of  vio- 
lence, abuse  and  sexism  is  acceptable  and  it  is  acceptable  as  a  be- 
havior in  perpetuating  the  cycle  of  low  self-esteem  of  our  youth,  ex- 
pressly African  American  youth,  we  then  must  be  able  to  see  and 
feel  the  effect  of  this  gangster  rap. 

The  rise  in  murders,  abuse,  batterings,  teen  prostitution,  teen 
pregnancy  and  teen  suicide,  folks,  is  a  reality.  An  unconscionable 
burden  has  been  placed  on  our  children.  It  has  caused  their  respect 
of  each  other  to  all  but  vanish.  The  value  of  life  is  all  but  negated, 
and  we  as  elders  or  grown-ups  who  are  giving  opportunity  of  ex- 
pression to  our  children  must  now  be  courageous  enough  to  take 
that  responsibility  to  show  how  we  celebrate  the  Constitution,  the 
free  market  system,  the  respect  of  the  first  amendment. 

Obscenity  in  any  form  has  never  been  acceptable  and  has  been 
always  known  as  an  exception  to  freedom  of  speech.  In  1992,  the 
Canadian  Supreme  Court  ruled  that  it  was  more  important  to  ban 
speech  that  is  dehumanizing  to  women  than  to  protect  free  speech. 
We  cannot  continue  to  allow  what  ends  up  on  records  or  television 
and  movie  screens  to  be  the  representation  of  what  is  thought  to 
be  what  we  want  to  see.  We  cannot  continue  for  the  sake  of  record 
sales  and  ratings  to  lead  our  children  down  a  one-way  street. 

We  have  got  to  let  all  of  our  children  know  that  "Menace  II  Soci- 
ety" and  "Boyz  'N  the  Hood"  are  not  the  totality  of  our  experience 
as  African  Americans.  We  have  got  to  let  them  know  that  the 
human  drama  and  struggle  in  tales  of  love  and  tragedy  and  por- 
trayals are  available  for  them  to  learn  of  the  royalty  and  pride  that 
their  African  lineage  comes  from.  We  all  know  loving  and  nurtur- 
ing families  and  neighbors.  Why,  then,  is  it  a  depiction  that  our 
lives  are  worse  than  dysfunctional? 

All  of  us  now  have  got  to  take  the  steps  to  correct  this  misconcep- 
tion that  is  being  dished  up  to  our  children  and  all  mankind  being 
accosted.  We  cannot  continue  to  allow  our  children  to  prepay  their 
funerals.  We  must  take  seriously  that  old  cliche,  our  children  are 
our  future.  We  must  again  invest  in  our  youth. 

I  applaud  Dr.  C.  Delores  Tucker  for  taking  the  initiative  to  sup- 
port and  to  provide  insight  into  the  process  of  reclaiming  our  youth, 
and  in  so  doing  we  also  reclaim  our  communities  and  our  cultural 
heritage.  I  recognize  this  to  be  an  enormous  undertaking.  However, 
all  the  struggles  that  I,  for  one,  have  been  a  part  of  for  the  right 
to  be  respected  and  regarded  as  an  equal  human  being  and  not  to 


be  demoralized  by  anyone — I  am  willing  to  be  one  of  the  threads 
that  will  provide  the  tapestry  that  has  to  be  woven  depicting  the 
love  and  full  respect  that  we  all  deserve  unconditionally. 

I  would  also  like  to  take  the  time  to  let  you  know  that  Ms.  Rosen 
decided  that  Whitney  Houston's  promotional  dollars  are  a  lot  larger 
than  those  given  to  promote  rap.  I  totally  disagree  with  her  100 
percent.  I  think  that  when  the  Honorable  Maxine  Waters,  who  hap- 
pens to  also  be  my  girl  friend,  took  the  time  to  read  lyrics  written 
by  Snoop  Doggy  Doggy — whatever  his  name  is — and  to  glorify  his 
position,  reading  about  tears  and  sky  and  gloominess,  she  should 
have  gone  further  to  continue  to  recite  the  words  that  came  out  of 
the  same  little  boy's  mouth,  his  mind  and  his  heart,  calling  women 
bitches,  calling  women  hoes.  The  little  boy  can't  even  spell  ho;  he 
can't  spell  gangster.  He  should  be  in  school. 

I  am  really  very,  very  passionate  about  this.  I  think  that  we  as 
human  beings,  but  more  specifically  as  parents — and  our  record 
companies  have  people  in  those  high  positions  who  are  parents — 
should  be  a  little  more  cognizant  and  a  little  more  careful  about 
the  diet  that  we  are  feeding  to  our  children  collectively  and  individ- 

When  it  comes  to  making  those  decisions,  we  all  know  who 
makes  the  decisions.  Head  honcho  makes  decisions.  BMG  happens 
to  be  on  that  list.  BMG  happens  to  be  the  parent  company  of  the 
recording  company  I  record  for,  and  I  think  that  we  all  know  who 
makes  those  decisions.  I  certainly  do,  as  does  everyone  who  was  sit- 
ting on  the  panel  before  me  knows. 

We  have  got  to  take  a  strong  stand.  Of  course,  we  are  careful 
about  the  first  amendment,  but  we  have  to  understand  the  first 
amendment  was  not  intended  to  promote  obscenity  and  abusive- 
ness  or  any  of  the  filth  that  we  are  now  subjected  to. 

A  young  lady  named  Tyreen  Wilson,  who  happens  to  be  20  years 
old,  appeared  at  the  National  Rainbow  Coalition  and  said  these 
words  about  a  commitment  to  her.  Since  then,  she  has  come  to 
work  for  the  National  Political  Congress  of  Black  Women  and  did 
research  for  the  lyrics  you  have  heard  here  today.  Our  children  can 
speak  for  themselves  quite  succinctly,  and  that  is  the  reason  for 
this  videotape.  And  if  you  can  allow  1  minute,  you  will  hear  a 
young  woman  speaking  for  herself  and  those  of  her  age  group. 

[Videotape  shown.] 

Ms.  Warwick.  Thank  you. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  That  is  powerful.  Thank  you  very 
much,  Ms.  Warwick. 

We  will  go  now  to  Ms.  Lee. 


Ms.  Lee.  Thank  you.  Senator  Braun.  I  am  Laura  Murphy  Lee 
and  I  am  Director  of  the  Washington  Bureau  of  the  American  Civil 
Liberties  Union.  We  have  about  300,000  members  nationwide  in 
every  State. 

The  ACLU  has  consistently  opposed  efforts  that  would  result  in 
punishment  for  the  expression  of  thoughts,  opinions  or  beliefs,  in- 
cluding expression  with  which  we  vigorously  disagree,  such  as  the 
advocacy  of  violence  against  women,  racial  supremacy,  or  religious 


Providing  hateful  and  demeaning  speech  with  constitutional  pro- 
tection is  not  the  same  as  saying  that  these  expressions  are  socially 
acceptable.  They  are  not  and  should  not  be  treated  with  impotent 
sighs  of  exasperation.  Instead,  the  very  same  constitutional  protec- 
tions that  permit  the  utterance  of  hateful  remarks  provide  the 
means  by  which  they  can  be  most  usefully  combatted. 

The  answer  to  racists,  misogynists  and  those  who  are  addicted 
to  violence  is  more  speech,  speech  that  provides  opposing  points  of 
view.  The  answer  is  not  censorship.  The  answer  is  in  educating  the 
consumers,  not  imploring  legislators  to 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Hold  on,  Ms.  Lee.  I  thought  we  made 
clear  some  time  ago  that  we  are  not  here  today  to  talk  about  cen- 
sorship in  the  context  of  adults  having  an  opportunity  to  choose 
what  they  want  to  hear. 

Ms.  Lee.  No,  Madam  Senator. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  We  are  specifically  focusing  in  on 
whether  the  constitutional  protections  to  which  you  refer  extend  to 
the  marginal  gangster  rap,  the  violence  and  the  like  being  sold  to 

Ms.  Lee.  I  respectfully  understand  the  scope  of  these  hearings. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  OK. 

Ms.  Lee.  However,  I  do  realize  that  there  are  people  here  who 
would  call  upon  you  to  advocate  censorship.  I  understand  that  is 
not  your  intention,  but  I  am  talking  to  them  as  well  as  to  you. 

These  legislators,  for  political  reasons,  will  attempt  to  pick  on  the 
bad  boy  or  bad  girl  of  the  moment,  and  I  am  not  talking  about  you. 
Senator  Braun.  The  role  of  the  legislator  is  not  imposing  content- 
based  rating  standards.  The  role  of  legislative  bodies  is  to  prevent 
discriminatory  acts,  not  speech,  acts  which  in  the  long  run  are  far 
more  dangerous. 

In  Bridges  v.  California  the  Supreme  Court  noted  it  is  a  prized 
American  privilege  to  speak  one's  mind,  although  not  always  with 
perfect  good  taste.  Through  the  Constitution,  and  in  particular  the 
first  amendment,  we  simply  do  not  give  government  the  authority 
to  decide  what  we  can  and  cannot  say,  for  it  is  a  power  that  cannot 
be  exercised  benignly.  Inevitably,  the  power  to  stop  speech  would 
lead  to  standardization  of  ideas  either  by  legislatures,  courts  or 
dominant  political  or  community  groups. 

As  a  result,  in  public  debate  our  own  citizens  must  tolerate  in- 
sulting and  even  outrageous  speech  in  order  to  provide  adequate 
breathing  space  to  the  freedoms  protected  by  the  first  amendment. 
When  speech  is  restricted,  it  will  always  serve  the  purposes  of 
those  in  power.  A  law  of  any  kind  is  but  a  manifestation  of  political 
power.  It  represents  the  status  quo  of  the  power  wielders  who  are 
always  loathe  to  give  up  the  power  to  those  who  hold  another  view- 

The  guarantee  of  free  speech  permits  everyone  who  holds  dif- 
ferent viewpoints  to  express  them  and  to  attempt  to  win  support 
among  the  citizenry.  If  the  right  of  free  expression  is  not  permitted, 
if  those  who  currently  hold  power  suppress  those  views,  they  leave 
dissenters  with  no  other  option  than  violence  or  revolution.  Thus, 
the  first  amendment  also  has  an  important  safety  valve  function, 
allowing  the  advocacy  of  ideas  to  see  if  people  will  support  them 
as  an  alternative  to  violence.  When  those  ideas  are  at  odds  with 


societal  values,  when  they  consist  of  detestable  and  deplorable  no- 
tions that  are  inconsistent  with  a  free  and  equal  society,  permitting 
that  speech  allows  society  to  recognize  that  a  problem  exists,  as 
well  as  the  depth  of  that  problem. 

In  other  words,  speech  acts  as  an  early  warning  system  to  dan- 
gers lurking  below  the  surface.  When  we  hear  the  words,  only  then 
can  society  attempt  to  address  the  issues  raised  by  using  both  edu- 
cation and  other  corrective  measures.  On  the  other  hand,  if  speech 
that  identifies  a  problem  is  suppressed,  code  words  will  replace 
those  that  have  been  banished  and,  in  response,  the  regime  of  cen- 
sorship will  grow.  The  result  will  be  an  anger  and  resentment  that 
is  guaranteed  to  fester  and  then  erupt  in  a  more  virulent  and  less 
controllable  form. 

I  would  remind  my  colleagues  that  there  was  a  reason  slaves 
were  prevented  from  learning  how  to  read  and  write.  In  some  areas 
of  the  South,  drum-playing  was  prohibited.  Slaves  who  could  nei- 
ther read  nor  play  drums  resorted  to  spirituals  that  contained  code 
words  as  to  how  to  rebel  and  when  the  next  escape  effort  was  afoot. 

When  there  is  fear  that  words  may  be  interpreted  as  offending 
someone  and  will  result  in  sanctions,  when  there  is  suspicion  that 
certain  questions  cannot  be  asked  because  penalties  may  follow, 
creative  expression  cannot  flourish  and  the  robust,  uninhibited  de- 
bate like  the  one  we  are  having  here  today  cannot  occur.  Even  Jus- 
tice Thurgood  Marshall  recognized  this  danger  when  he  wrote  that 
our  whole  constitutional  heritage  rebels  at  the  thought  of  giving 
government  the  power  to  control  men's  minds. 

Even  though  the  ACLU  is  most  concerned  about  potential  gov- 
ernment action  in  this  arena,  I  must  also  raise  our  concern  about 
the  relationship  that  private  censorship  organizations  are  develop- 
ing with  local  elected  officials.  The  collusion  that  is  going  on  most 
often  between  conservative  Christian  and  radical  right  groups  and 
local  government  is  disturbing.  Surely,  these  activists  will  be  de- 
lighted by  the  actions  of  opponents  of  gangster  rap.  Let  me  give 
you  a  few  examples. 

A  group  of  parents  and  media  specialists  in  Duval  County,  FL, 
have  determined  that  the  classic  Brothers  Grim  fairy  tale  is  too 
violent  for  its  audience.  After  all,  the  story  features  a  hunter  kill- 
ing a  wild  boar.  They  also  sought  to  ban  "Snow  White"  because  the 
wicked  witch  ordered  Snow  White's  heart  torn  out.  These  stories 
were  attacked,  as  well  as  Stephen  King  novels,  as  well  as  the  work 
of  acclaimed  African  American  poet  Nicky  Giovanni.  As  a  result  of 
their  efforts,  librarians  felt  forced  to  take  these  books  off  the 
shelves.  Students  have  to  first  get  parental  permission  to  get  access 
to  these  and  over  50  other  books  that  were  removed. 

In  Nebraska  a  private  group,  Omaha  for  Decency,  conducted  a 
private  sting  operation  against  nine  music  stores.  With  the  help  of 
a  city  council  member,  they  tried  to  stop  sales  of  2  Live  Crew's 
album  "Sports  Weekend."  While  they  were  not  entirely  successful, 
the  mere  threat  of  prosecution  will  end  up  making  some  merchants 
reluctant  to  sell  any  rap  music  that  has  a  bit  of  controversy,  hurt- 
ing the  good  rap  artists  as  well  as  the  bad. 

In  Frederick  County,  MD,  a  painting  that  was  a  satirical  takeoff 
of  a  Rubens  sketch  depicting  a  nude  or  semi-nude  George  Bush, 
General  George  Schwartzkopf,  a  nude  Dolly  Parton  and  a  semi- 


nude  Jesse  Helms  caused  the  Maryland  State  Legislature  not  to  go 
forward  with  a  bill  authorizing  a  $500,000  bond  issue  for  a  new 
building  for  the  arts  center.  One  delegate  called  the  satirical  work 
pornography,  and  I  think  the  Senator  will  recall  what  happened 
with  a  painting  of  former  Mayor  Harold  Washington  that  caused 
similar  controversy  in  Chicago. 

Last  year,  K-Mart  was  a  target  for  the  American  Family  Asso- 
ciation. Reverend  Donald  Wildman,  the  group's  founder,  announced 
that  K-Mart  was  targeted  because  it  was  owned  by  Walden  Books. 
Because  Walden  books  sold  Victorian  and  neo-Victorian  erotica,  the 
boycott  ended  up  having  these  books,  as  well  as  books  on  homo- 
sexuality. Playboy  Magazine  and  Penthouse,  removed. 

Two  years  ago,  Iran  contra  figure  and  now  U.S.  Senate  candidate 
Oliver  North  worked  with  his  advocacy  group.  Freedom  Alliance,  to 
encourage  State  governments  to  prosecute  media  conglomerate 
Time  Warner  for  distributing  Ice  T's  song  "Cop  Killer."  Even  after 
Ice  T  agreed  to  withdraw  his  song  from  the  marketplace,  North 
pressed  prosecutors  and  police  groups  to  initiate  criminal  or  civil 
actions  against  the  singer  and  Time  Warner.  Although  North  was 
unsuccessful  in  getting  prosecutions,  he  was  successful  in  stirring 
up  racial  hatred  and  intolerance. 

You  see,  some  people  just  want  artists  to  be  more  loving  and  less 
hateful.  Others  want  to  go  to  the  wall  and  have  them  serve  hard 
time.  I  am  surprised  that  efforts  to  ban  Shakespeare  are  not  next 
because  in  "Henry  VI"  he  writes,  "The  first  thing  we  do,  let's  kill 
all  the  lawyers."  Wasn't  Shakespeare  glorifying  murder? 

I  just  might  add  that  2  days  ago  on  the  cover  of  USA  Today, 
there  was  a  notice  about  an  Alice  Walker  ban.  I  will  quote  from  the 

A  short  story  by  Pulitzer  Prize-winning  author  Alice  Walker  was  pulled  from  a 
California  State  10th  grade  English  test  after  a  Christian  group  called  it 
antireUgious.  The  story,  Rosa  Lily,'  was  removed  by  State  officials  rather  than  of- 
fend the  Traditional  Values  Coalition.  The  story  is  about  a  rural  woman  who  ques- 
tions marriage  and  rehgion. 

In  conclusion,  there  are  a  wide  variety  of  constitutionally  pro- 
tected forms  of  protest  available  to  those  who  are  concerned  about 
music  lyrics  and  album  cover  art.  I  would  be  happy  to  discuss  these 
lawful  forms  of  protest  with  the  committee  and  the  members  of  the 

Thank  you  very  much,  Senator  Braun. 

[The  prepared  statement  of  Ms.  Lee  and  Mr.  Peck  follows:] 

Statement  of  Laura  Murphy  Lee  and  Robert  S.  Peck  on  Behalf  of  the  ACLU 

Washington  Office 

Government-sponsored  or  assisted  efforts  aimed  at  offensive  lyrics  in  rap  music 
strike  at  the  heart  of  constitutionally  protected  liberty  of  expression.  No  one  doubts 
that  the  Constitution  forbids  government  from  restricting  access  to  or  labeling  books 
that  are  sold  in  the  mainstream;  music  receives  precisely  the  same  constitutional 

As  with  all  classical  First  Amendment  disputes,  the  controversy  over  gangsta  rap 
is  over  what  some  people  deem  to  be  dangerous  ideas.  Yet,  above  all  else,  the  First 
Amendment  means  that  government  has  no  power  to  restrict  expression  because  of 
its  message,  its  ideas,  its  subject  matter,  or  its  content.  Police  Department  v.  Mosley, 
408  U.S.  92,  95  (1972).  As  Justice  Robert  Jackson  wrote,  the  First  Amendment  is 
designed  to  "foreclose  public  authority  from  assuming  a  guardianship  of  the  pubUc 
mind"  and  from  "protect[ing]  the  public  against  false  doctrine."  Thomas  v.  Collins, 
323  U.S.  516,  545  (1945)( Jackson,  J.,  concurring).  This  is  true  even  when  the  con- 


cem  is  over  children  who  may  not  have  developed  the  critical  thinking  skills  that 
allow  them  to  reject  or  discount  certain  messages.  In  striking  down  a  ban  on  nudity 
in  drive-in  theaters  visible  from  the  street,  the  Supreme  Court  noted  that  "[sjpeech 
that  is  neither  obscene  as  to  youths  nor  subject  to  some  other  legitimate  prescription 
cannot  be  suppressed  solely  to  protect  the  young  from  ideas  or  images  that  a  legisla- 
tive body  thinks  unsuitable  for  them."  Erznoznik  v.  City  of  Jacksonville,  422  U.S. 
205,  213-14. 


The  constitutional  protection  afforded  freedom  of  speech  provides  broad  protection 
to  a  wide  array  of  expressions,  as  well  as  to  forms  of  communication.  "Entertain- 
ment, as  well  as  political  and  ideological  speech,  is  protected;  motion  pictures,  pro- 
grams broadcast  by  radio  and  television,  and  live  entertainment,  such  as  musical 
and  dramatic  works,  fall  within  the  First  Amendment  guarantee."  Schad  v.  Borough 
of  Mount  Ephraim,  452  U.S.  61,  65  (1985)(citations  omitted).  The  reason  for  protect- 
ing such  a  diverse  set  of  expressive  forms  is  obvious.  Entertainment  has  long  been 
thought  to  be  a  means  by  which  social  and  political  commentary  is  expressed.  Musi- 
cal forms  certednly  fit  within  this  tradition,  promoting  both  patriotism  and  protest, 
celebration  of  the  political  or  social  system  and  biting  criticism,  and  desirable  and 
undesirable  human  interaction.  Much  of  musical  expression  captures  the  imagina- 
tion, hopes  and  dreams  of  people  with  far  greater  urgency  and  intensity  than  what 
passes  for  political  oratory. 


Gangsta  rap  certainly  promotes  ideas  about  the  society  in  which  we  live.  These 
ideas  may  be  anti-social,  misogynist,  and  conceived  in  a  desire  for  commercial  gain, 
but  these  are  not  reasons  to  treat  them  of  lesser  First  Amendment  import.  As  the 
Court  has  observed,  "the  First  Amendment  forbids  the  government  to  regulate 
speech  in  ways  that  favor  some  viewpoints  or  ideas  at  the  expense  of  others."  City 
Council  of  Los  Angeles  v.  Taxpayers  for  Vincent,  466  U.S.  789,  804  (1984).  Laws  are 
presumptively  unconstitutional  if  "government  has  adopted  a  regulation  of  speech 
because  of  disagreement  with  the  message  it  conveys. 

If  it  were  otherwise,  if  government  had  the  power  to  stamp  out  or  make  more  dif- 
ficult the  expression  of  views  it  deemed  anti-social,  the  majority  would  always  have 
a  veto  power  over  the  expression  of  minority  views.  Every  major  protest  movement, 
whether  promoting  civil  rights,  workers'  rights,  or  peace,  started  out  as  something 
society  viewed  as  extremist  and  a  threat  to  the  very  foundations  of  our  society.  Yet, 
the  protections  of  the  Constitution  permitted  these  views  to  be  expressed,  sometimes 
achieving  progress  that  cause  when  it  won  over  enough  adherents  to  its  views  and 
sometimes  engendering  a  response  that  caused  rejection  of  that  movement.  This  is 
how  our  system  of  free  expression  is  supposed  to  work. 

The  Supreme  Court's  decisions  against  interfering  with  speech  because  of  the 
ideas  they  promote  are  so  comprehensive  that  it  extends  to  speech  that  advocates 
violation  of  the  law.  The  First  Amendment  even  protects  speech  that  advocates  "use 
of  force  or  violence."  NAACP  v.  Claiborne  Hardware  Co.,  458  U.S.  886,  927  (1982). 
It  is  only  when  "such  advocacy  is  directed  to  inciting  or  producing  imminent  lawless 
action  and  is  likely  to  incite  or  produce  such  action"  that  civil  or  criminal  liability 
may  attach.  Brandenburg  v.  Ohio,  395  U.S.  444,  447  (1969)  (per  curiam).  The  Court, 
in  that  case,  went  on  to  state  that  "[a]  statute  which  fails  to  draw  this  distinction 
impermissibly  intrudes  upon  the  freedoms  guaranteed  by  the  First  and  Fourteenth 
Amendments.  It  sweeps  within  its  condemnation  speech  which  our  Constitution  has 
immunized  from  government  control."  Id.  at  448.  Even  where  song  lyrics  are 
thought  to  advocate  or  encourage  minors  to  commit  suicide,  they  enjoy  full  constitu- 
tional protection.  Waller  v.  Osbourne,  No.  CIV  88-111  (M.D.  Ga.  May  6,  1991). 
Nothing  in  gangsta  rap  satisfies  the  Brandenburg  Court's  incitement  standard. 


The  First  Amendment  represents  a  profound  national  commitment  to  "uninhib- 
ited, robust  and  wide-open  discussion  that  "may  well  include  vehement,  caustic, 
and  sometimes  unpleasantly  sharp"  speech.  New  York  Times  Co.  v.  Sullivan,  376 
U.S.  254,  270  (1964).  Our  Constitution  commands  that  "[g]overnment  may  not  pro- 
hibit the  expression  of  an  idea  simply  because  society  finds  the  idea  itself  offensive 
or  disagreeable."  Texas  v.  Johnson,  491  U.S.  397,  414  (1989).  It  remains  bedrock 
First  Ainendment  principle  that  one  is  free  "to  speak  one's  mind,  [even  if]  not  al- 
ways with  perfect  good  taste."  Bridges  v.  California,  314  U.S.  252  270  (1941). 


The  case  of  Cohen  v.  California,  403  U.S.  15  (1971)  is  dispositive.  In  this  case, 
a  man  was  arrested  at  a  courthouse  for  wearing  a  jacket  emblazoned  with  an  exple- 
tive, reflecting  his  opinion  of  the  military  draft.  The  Supreme  Court  threw  out  his 
conviction  as  a  violation  of  the  First  Alhendment.  The  Court  observed  that: 

Surely  the  State  has  no  right  to  cleanse  public  debate  to  the  point  where 
it  is  grsimmatically  palatable  to  the  most  squeamish  among  us.  Yet  no  read- 
ily ascertainable  general  principle  exists  for  stopping  short  of  that  result 
were  we  to  affirm  the  judgment  below.  For,  while  the  particular  four-letter 
word  being  litigated  here  is  perhaps  more  distasteful  than  most  others  of 
its  genre,  it  is  nevertheless  often  true  that  one  man's  vulgarity  is  another's 
l5rric.  Indeed,  we  think  it  is  Isirgely  because  governmental  officials  cannot 
make  principled  distinctions  in  this  area  that  the  Constitution  leaves  mat- 
ters of  taste  and  style  largely  to  the  individual. 

Id.  at  25  (emphasis  added). 

Thus,  the  general  rule  remains  that  "so  long  as  the  nieans  are  peaceful,  the  com- 
munication need  iiot  meet  standards  of  acceptability."  Organization  for  a  Better  Aus- 
tin V.  Keefe,  402  U.S.  415,  419  (1971). 


Some  advocates  of  government  action  to  restrict  gangsta  rap  have  called  them  ob- 
scene and  suggested  that  this  might  permit  federal  regulation.  Such  suggestions 
cannot  be  reconciled  with  First  Amendment  jurisprudence.  Obscenity,  wWch  the 
Court  has  said  is  largely  outside  the  boundaries  of  First  Amendment  protection,  is 
a  very  narrow  and  circumscribed  area  of  communication.  Because  obscenity  is  easily 
confused  with  protected  sexual  expression,  the  Supreme  Court  has  required  sub- 
stantial specificity  in  anti -obscenity  statutes  in  order  to  provide  sufficient  notice  of 
what  is  actually  being  proscribed. 

To  be  obscene  under  the  prevailing  test.  Miller  v.  California,  413  U.S.  15,  24 
(1973),  the  trier  of  fact  must  determihe  that: 

1.  The  average  person,  applying  contemporary  community  standards 
would  find  that  the  work,  taken  as  a  whole,  appeals  to  the  prurient  inter- 

2.  The  work  depicts  or  describes,  in  a  patently  offensive  way,  sefbal  con- 
duct specifically  defined  by  the  applicable  law;  and 

3.  The  work,  taken  as  a  whole,  l^icks  serious  literary,  artistic,  political, 
or  scientific  value. 

In  a  recent  case  involving  2  Live  Crew's  album,  "As  Nasty  As  They  Wanna  Be" 
the  U.S.  Court  of  Appeals  for  the  Eleventh  Circuit  held  that  the  rap  record  could 
not  be  regarded  as  obscene.  Though  the  Broward  County  sheriffs  office  failed  to 
meet  its  burden  under  Miller,  the  court  observed  that  'Tjecause  music  possesses  in- 
herent artistic  value,  no  work  of  music  alone  may  be  declared  obscene."  Luke 
Records.  Inc.  v.  Navarro,  960  F.2d  134,  135  (11th  Cir.),  cert,  denied,  113  S.Ct  659 
(1992).  Thus,  musical  compositions,  whether  they  consist  of  instrumentation  alone 
or  are  accompanied  by  lyrics  (the  issue  in  Luke  Records),  are  unlikely  to  ever  satisfy 
the  third  part  of  the  Miller  obscenity  test. 

Moreover,  the  genesis  of  curreht  congressional  interest  in  gangsta  rap  is  not  over 
its  explicit  sexual  content  but  over  its  view  of  women.  The  Supreme  Court  has 
steadfastly  refused  to  allow  legislation  intended  to  prohibit  obscenity  from  being 
used  against  ideas. 

The  selninal  case  for  this  proposition  is  Kingsley  Pictures  Corp.  v.  Board  of  Re- 
gents, 360  U.S.  684  (1959).  In  the  1950's,  New  York  required  that  motion  pictures 
receive  licenses  before  they  could  be  exhibited  in  theaters.  The  state  denied  such 
a  license  to  the  movie  Lady  Chatterly's  Lover  under  a  state  obscenity  law,  because 
it  favorably  portrayed  an  adulterous  relationship.  The  Court  held  that  "[wjhat  New 
York  has  done,  therefore  is  to  prevent  the  exhibition  of  a  motion  picture  because 
that  picture  advocates  an  idea — that  adultery  under  certain  circumstances  may  be 
proper  behavior.  Yet  the  First  Amendment's  basic  guarantee  is  of  freedom  to  advo- 
cate ideas.  The  State,  quite  simply,  has  thus  struck  at  the  very  heart  of  constitu- 
tionally protected  liberty."  Id.  at  688. 

A  concern  for  youth  does  not  change  the  constitutional  equation.  "Speech  *  *  ♦ 
cannot  be  suppressed  solely  to  protect  the  young  from  ideas  or  images  that  a  legisla- 
tive body  thinks  unsuitable  for  them.  In  most  circumstances,  the  values  protected 
by  the  First  Amendment  are  no  less  applicable  when  government  seeks  to  control 
the  flow  of  information  to  minors."  Erznoznik  v.  City  of  Jacksonville,  422  U.S.  205, 
213-14  (1975)( citations  and  footnote  omitted). 


Attempts  to  carve  out  an  obscenity-like  First  Amendment  exception  for  expression 
that  subordinates  or  dehumanizes  women  have  similarly  been  rejected  by  the 
courts.  In  declaring  unconstitutional  an  ordinance  aimed  at  providing  legal  remedies 
against  "the  graphic  sexually  explicit  subordination  of  women,  whether  in  pictures 
or  in  words,"  the  Seventh  Circuit,  affirmed  by  the  Supreme  Court,  held  this  to  be 
an  attempt  to  suppress  certain  ideas,  however  pernicious.  American  Booksellers 
Ass'n  V.  Hudnut,  111  F.2d  323,  330  (7th  Cir.  1985),  affd  mem.,  Alb  U.S.  1001 
(1986).  In  that  case,  the  court  noted  that  much  of  classical  literature,  including 
Homer's  Iliad,  W.B.  Yeat's  poem  "Leda  and  the  Swan,"  and  James  Joyce's  Ulysses, 
to  name  a  few,  contains  depictions  of  women  as  submissive  objects  for  conquest  and 
domination.  Yet,  a  free  society  cannot  exist  where  people  can  be  made  to  pay  a  pen- 
alty for  holding  objectionable  opinions.  "One  of  the  things  that  separates  our  society 
from  [that  of  totalitarian  governments]  is  our  absolute  right  to  propagate  opinions 
that  the  government  finds  wrong  or  even  hateful."  Id.  at  328.  The  court  went  on 
to  state: 

Racial  bigotry,  anti-semitism,  violence  on  television,  reporters'  biases — 
these  and  many  more  influence  the  culture  and  shape  our  socialization. 
None  is  directly  answerable  by  more  speech,  unless  that  speech  too  finds 
its  place  in  the  popular  culture.  Yet  all  is  protected  as  speech,  however  in- 
sidious. Any  other  answer  leaves  the  government  in  control  of  all  of  the  in- 
stitutions of  culture,  the  great  censor  and  director  of  which  thoughts  are 
good  for  us. 

Id.  at  330 

Some  have  suggested  that  Canada,  which  has  taken  a  different  approach  to  this 
issue,  has  the  better  of  the  argument.  Those  who  do  have  ignored  the  spate  of  cen- 
sorship that  the  Canadian  approach  has  inspired.  In  a  1992  decision,  Butler  v.  Her 
Majesty,  the  Queen,  the  Canadian  Supreme  Court  upheld  a  law  that  prohibited 
words  and  images  that  "degrade"  or  "ejcploit"  women  or  other  groups,  relying  on  an 
interpretation  of  Canada's  ten-year-old  Bill  of  Rights.  The  result,  rather  than  protec- 
tive of  women,  has  been  a  series  of  raids  on  gay  and  lesbian  bookstores,  the  seizure 
at  the  U.S. -Canadian  border  of  award-winning  books  and  plays  as  "hate  propa- 
ganda," and  the  banishment  of  serious  feminist  literature.  In  other  words,  precisely 
the  opposite  effect  of  those  who  urged  the  Supreme  Court  to  uphold  the  law.  The 
United  States,  with  its  two-  century-old  Bill  of  Rights,  has  long  recognized  the  im- 
possibility of  interfering  with  only  some  ideas  without  that  crack  in  the  protection 
of  fi*ee  speech  coming  back  to  haunt. 



Those  who  would  impose  governmentally  mandated  labels  on  music  albums,  in 
the  larger  context,  seek  nothing  less  than  to  empower  government  to  decide  which 
kinds  of  speech  should  be  unfettered  and  which  should  be  accompanied  by  warnings 
that  can  only  serve  to  discourage  or  suppress  public  access  to  the  information  being 
conveyed.  If  such  warning  labels  can  be  mandated  for  rap  music,  why  not  to  other 
forms  of  speech  that  others  find  equally  unsettling?  Why  not  to  art,  to  books,  to 
newspaper  articles,  or  to  political  commentary? 

Yet,  our  Constitution  views  no  idea  as  sufficiently  dangerous  to  justify  govern- 
ment warning  or  intervention.  Its  free-expression  guarantee  denies  government  a 
paternalistic  authority  over  speech.  It  instead  reserves  these  debates  about  the 
value  and  impact  of  expressive  materials  to  the  marketplace  where  parents  and  oth- 
ers, without  government  interference,  may  make  their  own  decisions  about  when 
certain  material  should  not  be  in  the  home.  A  multitude  of  unofficial  voices  may 
sound  warnings  about  the  dangers  of  certain  speech,  but  official  stamps  of  dis- 
approval have  no  place  in  a  free  society. 

Imagine  the  power  that  would  be  ceded  to  government  if  it  could  warn  the  Amer- 
ican people  away  from  speech  that  those  then  in  power  considered  against  society's 
best  interests.  Political  protest  would  be  the  first  form  of  speech  burdened  with  re- 
quirements of  disclaimers  or  officially  worded  recitations  of  the  underlying  facts  of 
the  dispute.  Governmentally  compiled  blacklists  could  be  maintained  for  books,  mov- 
ies, records,  and  television  programs  thought  to  encourage  "anti-social"  behavior. 
Yet,  none  of  this  would  be  constitutional  because  "the  First  Amendment  forbids  the 
government  to  regulate  speech  in  ways  that  favor  some  viewpoints  or  ideas  at  the 
expense  of  others."  City  Council  of  Los  Angeles  v.  Taxpayers  for  Vincent,  466  U.S. 

While  some  might  claim  that  labeling  is  not  censorship,  the  First  Amendment's 
prohibition  against  government  regulation  of  speech  includes  both  direct  govern- 


ment  censorship,  as  well  as  "more  subtle  governmental  interference."  Bates  v.  City 
of  Little  Rock,  361  U.S.  516,  523  (1960).  It  protects  against  "inhibition  as  well  as 
prohibition."  Lamont  v.  Postmaster  General,  381  U.S.  301,  309  (1965)  (Brennan,  J., 
concurring).  Its  protections  extend  against  any  burden  placed  by  the  government  on 
the  unfettered  exercise  of  free-speech  rights.  A  series  of  warning  labels  with  specific 
government-approved  wording  violates  the  First  Amendment  as  a  form  of  prior  re- 
straint in  the  nature  of  compelled  speech. 

A  prior  restraint  consists  of  a  government  regulation  that  restricts  or  interferes 
with  speech  prior  to  its  utterance.  The  Supreme  Court  has  said  that  "[a]ny  system 
of  prior  restraints  of  expression  comes  to  this  Court  bearing  a  heavy  presumption 
against  its  constitutional  validity."  Bantam  Books  v.  Sullivan,  372  U.S.  58,  70 
(1963).  Warning  labels  violate  the  Constitution's  prohibition  on  prior  restraints  by 
imposing  an  additional  speech  requirement  on  the  expressive  material  before  it  en- 
ters the  marketplace  of  ideas.  The  Court  has  said  that  "the  Constitution  does  not 
permit  government  to  decide  which  types  of  otherwise  protected  speech  are  suffi- 
ciently offensive  to  require  protection  for  the  unwilling  listener  or  viewer." 
Erznoznik  v.  City  of  Jacksonville,  422  U.S.  205,  210  (1975).  Such  a  rule  appUes  with 
equal  force  to  the  unsuspecting  listener  or  purchaser. 

Fundamental  to  the  issue  of  labels  or  ratings  is  that  the  First  Amendment's  pro- 
tections include  "both  the  right  to  speak  freely  and  the  right  to  refrain  from  speak- 
ing at  all."  Wooley  v.  Maynard  430  U.S.  705,  714  (1977).  Justice  Lewis  Powell  elabo- 
rated on  these  rights  by  noting  that  it  is  a  "fundamental  principle  that  the  coerced 
publication  of  particular  views,  as  much  as  their  suppression,  violates  the  freedom 
of  speech."  Herbert  v.  Lando,  441  U.S.  153,  178  n.l  (1979)  (Powell,  J.,  concurring). 
The  protections  of  the  First  Amendment  encompass  "the  decision  of  both  what  to 
say  and  what  not  to  say."  Riley  v.  National  Federation  of  the  Blind,  487  U.S.  781, 
797  (1988). 

Underlying  this  constitutional  principle  is  the  idea  that  compelled  speech  "both 
penalizes  the  expression  of  particular  points  of  view  and  forces  speakers  to  alter 
their  speech  to  conform  with  an  agenda  they  do  not  set"  Pacific  Gas  &  Electric  Co. 
V.  Public  Utilities  Comm'n,  475  U.S.  1,  9  (1986).  This  would  be  true  where  record 
producers  would  seek  to  have  artists  change  their  lyrics  in  order  to  meet  the  govern- 
ment's agenda. 

To  enforce  this  idea,  the  Supreme  Coiirt  has  held  that  "significant  encroachments 
on  First  Amendment  rights  of  the  sort  that  compelled  disclosure  imposes  cannot  be 
justified  by  a  mere  showing  of  some  legitimate  governmental  interest."  Buckley  v. 
Valeo,  424  U.S.  1,  64  (1976).  Instead,  the  requirements  draw  "exacting  scrutiny'  and 
must  have  a  "'substantial  relation'  between  the  government  interest  and  the  infor- 
mation required  to  be  disclosed."  Id.  (footnotes  omitted). 

These  requirements  attach  "even  if  any  deterrent  effect  on  the  exercise  of  First 
Amendment  rights  arises,  not  through  direct  government  action,  but  indirectly  as 
an  unintended  but  inevitable  result  of  the  government's  conduct  in  requiring  disclo- 
sure." Id.  at  65  (citations  omitted).  In  other  words,  the  disclosure  requirements  must 
be  unrelated  to  any  desire  to  suppress  speech,  even  when  motivated  by  a  concern 
"for  its  likely  communicative  impact."  United  States  v.  Eichman,  496  U.S.  310,  318 
(1990).  See  also  United  States  v.  O'Brien,  391  U.S.  367,  377  (1968). 

Even  if  the  notification  requirement  merely  required  a  recitation  of  undisputed 
facts,  it  would  not  meet  constitutional  requirements.  A  law  compelling  such  disclo- 
sure, the  Court  has  said,  "would  cleairly  and  substantially  burden  the  protected 
speech; "  even  though  the  "factual  information  might  be  relevant  to  the  listener"  and 
"could  encourage  or  discourage  the  listener"  from  participating  in  the  activity.  Riley, 
487  U.S.  at  798.  The  Court  has  always  found  that  private  means  of  disclosing  such 
information  is  preferable  to  "a  prophylactic  rule  of  compelled  speech."  Id.  The  Riley 
Court  invalidated  a  North  Carolina  law  that  required  all  solicitations  by  profes- 
sional fundraisers  on  behalf  of  charities  to  reveal  the  percentage  of  donations  that 
they  retained  and  that  which  went  to  the  charities. 

The  underlying  intent  of  the  North  Carolina  law,  as  the  Court  found,  was  to  dis- 
courage contributions  to  charities  that  spent  a  high  percentage  of  their  funds  on 
fundraising.  Similarly,  even  a  simple  requirement  that  the  author  of  a  publication 
be  identified  can  sometimes  exert  an  unconstitutionally  inhibitory  effect  on  expres- 
sive materials.  Talley  v.  California,  362  U.S.  60,  64-65  (1960). 

As  a  result,  governmentally  mandated  rating  systems  for  movies  have  been  invali- 
dated by  the  courts  in  numerous  instances.  See,  e.g..  Interstate  Circuit.  Inc.  v.  City 
of  Dallas,  390  U.S.  676  (1968);  National  Ass'n  of  Theater  Owners  v.  Motion  Picture 
Comm'n,  328  F.  Supp.  6  (E.D.  Wise.  1971);  Motion  Picture  Ass'n  of  America  v.  Spec- 
ter, 315  F.  Supp.  824  (E.D.  Pa.  1970).  Last  year,  a  state  court  invalidated  a  Wash- 
ington law  that   required   musical   recordings   containing  "erotic"   content   to  be 



labelled  "Adults  Only."  Soundgarden  v.  Eikenberry,  No.  92-2-14258-9  (King  Ctv 
Sup.  Ct  Nov.  20,  1992),  appeal  pending. 

It  is  clear  that  any  system  of  governmentally  mandated  warning  labels  on  speech 
fails  to  pass  constitutional  muster  under  longstanding  precedent 



Even  if  the  other  constitutional  infirmities  noted  were  not  enough  to  invalidate 
labeling  legislation,  such  a  bill  would  face  insuperable  definitional  problems.  Which 
records  merit  warning  labels,  and  which  do  not?  The  legislation  itself  would  have 
to  describe  "with  narrow  specificity"  the  lyrical  content  that  merited  a  label.  NAACP 
v.  Button,  371  U.S.  415,  433  (1963)  (citations  omitted). 

Under  the  concept  of  due  process  of  law,  all  legislation  must  be  written  in  a  man- 
ner that  "give[s]  the  person  of  ordinary  inteUigence  a  reasonable  opportunity  to 
know  what  is  prohibited,  so  that  he  may  act  accordingly."  Grayned  v.  City  of  Rock- 
ford,  408  U.S.  104,  108  (1972).  When  a  '^law  interferes  with  the  right  of  free  speech 
*  *  *  a  more  stringent  vagueness  test  should  apply."  Village  of  Hoffman  Estates  v. 
Flipside,  Hoffman  Estates,  Inc.,  455  U.S.  489,  499  (1982). 

Thus,  the  statute  itself  "must  provide  explicit  standards  for  those  who  apply 
them.  A  vague  law  impermissibly  delegates  basic  policy  matters  to  policemen, 
judges,  and  juries  for  resolution  on  an  ad  hoc  and  subjective  basis,  with  the  attend- 
ant dangers  of  arbitrary  and  discriminatory  application."  Grayned,  408  U.S.  at  108- 

Even  when  "legislation  [is]  aimed  at  protecting  children  from  allegedly  harmful 
expression — no  less  than  legislation  enacted  with  respect  to  adults — [it  must]  be 
clearly  drawn  and  *  *  *  the  standards  adopted  be  reasonably  precise."  Interstate 
Circuit,  Inc.  v.  City  of  Dallas,  390  U.S.  676,  689  (1968)  (quoting  with  approval  Peo- 
ple v.  Kahan,  15  N.Y.2d  311,  313,  206  N.E.2d  333,  335  (1965)  (Fuld,  C.J.,  concur- 
ring)). To  overcome  these  vagueness  concerns,  the  statute  itself  must  contain  an  "as- 
certainable standard  for  inclusion  and  exclusion."  Smith  v.  Goguen,  415  U.S.  566, 

When  legislation  does  not,  it  causes  a  chilling  effect  on  speech,  inducing  speakers 
to  "steer  far  wider  of  the  unlawful  zone"  than  if  the  boundaries  were  clearly  marked. 
Speiser  v.  Randall,  357  U.S.  513,  526  (1958).  It  forces  people  to  conform  their  speech 
to  "that  which  is  unquestionably  safe."  Baggett  v.  Bullitt,  377  U.S.  360,  372  (1964). 
Or,  as  in  this  case,  it  could  pressure  record  producers  to  change  the  content  of  al- 
bums to  avoid  the  labelhng  requirement. 

The  Constitution  does  not  permit  government  to  accomplish  indirectly  what  it  is 
forbidden  from  doing  directly.  It  appears  that  no  definition  can  conceivably  give 
music  companies  sufficient  notice  of  what  speech  is  subject  to  regulation.  It  was  on 
the  basis  of  the  void-for-vagueness  doctrine,  for  example,  that  the  Supreme  Court 
struck  down  an  ordinance  that  classified  films  as  "not  suitable  for  young  persons" 
when  it  described  or  portrayed  "brutality,  criminal  violence  or  depravity"  or  "nudity 
beyond  the  customary  limits  of  candor  in  the  community,  or  sexual  promiscuity  or 
extra-marital  or  abnormal  sexual  relations"  in  a  manner  "likely  to  incite  or  encour- 
age" crime,  delinquency  or  sexual  promiscuity  "or  appeal  to  their  prurient  interests" 
and  "create  the  impression  on  young  persons  that  such  conduct  is  profitable,  desir- 
able, acceptable,  respectable,  praiseworthy  or  commonly  accepted."  Interstate  Cir- 
cuit, 390  U.S.  at  681. 

The  Eighth  Circuit  recently  applied  identical  reasoning  in  striking  down  a  Mis- 
souri law  aimed  at  restricting  minors'  access  to  violent  videocassettes,  holding  that 
the  law  was  unconstitutionally  vague.  Video  Software  Dealers  Ass'n  v.  Webster,  968 
F.2d  684,  688  (8th  Cir.  1992).  Last  November,  a  similar  result  was  reached  by  the 
Tennessee  Supreme  Court,  invalidating  as  void-for-vagueness  a  law  that  made  the 
display  rental  of  visual  depictions  of  excess  violence,"  defined  as  "graphic  and/or 
bloody"  portrayals  of  violence  "for  violence's  sake"  that  exceed  community  standards. 
Davis-Kidd  Booksellers,  Inc.  v.  McWheHer,  No.  01-S-01-9208-CH-00090  (Nov.  8, 

At  the  same  time,  regulations  aimed  at  labeling  these  games  would  probably  also 
violate  the  First  Amendment's  overbreadth  rules.  Under  this  doctrine,  laws  that  af- 
fect speech  not  legitimately  subject  to  restriction  are  overinclusive  and  thus  uncon- 
stitutional. See.  e.g..  City  of  Houston  v.  Hill,  482  U.S.  451  (1987).  Because  any  sys- 
tem of  parental  notification  would  treat  all  offensive  lyrics  as  equally  harmful  and 
thus  meriting  a  warning  label,  it  is  likely  to  encompass  music  that  has  mainstream 
approval.  Since  there  can  be  no  legitimate  government  interest  in  warning  consum- 
ers about  these  messages,  as  opposed  to  dangerous  machinery,  such  regulations 
would  be  fatally  overbroad. 


In  Erznoznik  v.  City  of  Jacksonville,  422  U.S.  205,  213  (1975),  the  Court  invali- 
dated a  city  ordinance  that  prohibited  nudity  in  films  shown  at  drive-in  theaters, 
in  part,  because  the  ordinance  treated  all  nudity  as  harmful,  including  a  "baby's 
buttocks,  the  nude  body  of  a  war  victim,  or  scenes  from  a  culture  in  which  nudity 
is  indigenous."  The  ordinance  had  been  passed  as  a  measure  to  protect  children 
from  inappropriate  movie  materigj.  Applying  the  overbreadth  doctrine,  the  Court 
held  that  an  ordinance  burdening  expression  may  not  sweep  so  broadly  that  it  curbs 
speech  that  does  not  have  the  harmful  effects  that  the  government  had  sought  to 
remedy.  That  principle  applies  equally  to  proposals  aimed  at  rap  lyrics. 


While  there  is  no  First  Amendment  bar  against  industry  taking  voluntary  steps 
to  provide  warning  labels,  any  government  involvement  in  that  process  travels  deep- 
ly into  unconstitutional  territory.  Both  "facilitation"  and  the  threat  of  future  govern- 
mental action  violates  the  First  Amendment  "almost  as  potently  as  the  actual  appli- 
cation of  sanctions."  NAACP  v.  Button,  371  U.S.  415,  433  (1963). 

Such  government  action  was  invaUdated  by  the  Supreme  Court  in  Bantam  Books 
V.  Sullivan,  372  U.S.  58  (1963).  There,  the  Court  found  that  letters  written  by  the 
Rhode  Island  Commission  to  Encourage  Morality  in  Youth  to  certain  bookstores  and 
pubUshers,  Usting  "objectionable"  publications  and  seeking  "cooperation"  in  order  to 
eliminate  the  necessity  of  our  recommending  prosecution"  amounted  to  "a  scheme 
of  state  censorship  effectuated  by  extralegal  sanctions;  they  acted  as  an  agency  not 
to  advise  but  to  suppress."  Id.  at  72.  The  letters  attempted  to  impose  "censorship 
by  means  of  intimidation."  Planned  Parenthood  v.  Agency  for  International  Develop- 
ment, 915  F.2d  59,  64  (2d  Cir.  1990),  cert,  denied.  111  S.  Ct  2257  (1991)  (character- 
izing the  meaning  of  Bantam  Books). 

Significantly,  the  Court  found  that  neither  seizure,  banning,  or  prosecution  was 
necessary  to  constitute  the  First  Amendment  violation.  The  mere  "threat  of  invoking 
legal  sanctions  and  other  means  of  coercion,  persuasion,  and  intimidation"  was  the 
gravamen  of  the  constitutional  breach.  Bantam  Books,  372  U.S.  at  637.  As  recently 
stated  by  one  federal  appellate  court,  "when  the  government  threatens  no  sanction — 
criminal  or  otherwise — we  very  much  doubt  that  the  government's  criticism  or  etTort 
to  embarrass  *  *  *  threatens  anyone's  First  Amendment  rights.  Penthouse  Int'l. 
Ltd.  V.  Meese,  939  F.2d  1011,  1015-16  (D.a  Cir.  1991),  cert,  denied,  112  S.  Ct.  1513 
( 1992).  Accordingly,  when  that  criticism  is  accompanied  by  warnings  of  prospective 
governmental  intervention,  it  does  violate  the  First  Amendment. 

When  laws  promote  self-censorship  of  protected  speech  by  holding  out  the  pros- 
pect of  legal  consequences  such  as  mandatory  labeling,  the  First  Amendment  viola- 
tion is  as  significant  as  if  the  law  directly  prohibited  the  expression.  Labeling  books 
objectionable"  was  deemed  by  the  Supreme  Court  as  a  form  of  "informal  censorship 
[that]  may  sufficiently  inhibit  the  circulation  of  publications  to  warrant  injunctive 
relief"  Bantam  Books,  372  U.S.  at  67.  LabeUing  requirements  have  the  same  pur- 
poses and  effects.  They  cannot  withstand  constitutional  scrutiny. 

Instead,  the  remedy  for  those  who  object  to  the  lyrics  of  these  songs  Is  to  use  their 
own  free-speech  rights  to  appeal  to  the  public.  Thus,  the  "fitting  remedy  for  evil 
counsels  is  good  ones."  Whitney  v.  California,  21 A  U.S.  357,  375  (1927)  (Brandeis, 
J.,  concurring).  Boycotts,  protests,  and  education  are  tools  that  they  can  use  to  pro- 
mote their  view  that  these  lyrics  are  harmful  or  unworthy  of  public  support.  Movies, 
for  example,  are  not  just  privately  rated  by  the  Motion  Picture  Association  of  Amer- 
ica, but  also  by  newspaper  reviewers,  educators,  parents  groups,  and  advocacy  orga- 
nizations. Parents  wanting  to  make  sure  that  they  are  acting  responsibly  with  re- 
spect to  the  movies  they  let  their  children  watch  have  the  responsibility  to  find  a 
rater  that  approaches  their  own  sensibilities  and  act  accordingly.  It  is  ultimately, 
however,  for  the  people  to  decide — without  government  interference — whether  these 
IjTics  continue  to  have  an  audience. 


There  is  no  constitutionally  legitimate  government  role  in  regulating  or  labeling 
rap  music  lyrics.  "The  First  Amendment  presupposes  that  the  freedom  to  speak 
one's  mind  is  not  only  an  aspect  of  individual  liberty — and  thus  a  good  unto  itself — 
but  also  is  essential  to  the  common  quest  for  truth  and  the  vitality  of  society  as  a 
whole."  Bose  Corp.  v.  Consumers  Union,  466  U.S.  485,  503  (1984).  When  some 
modes  of  that  expression  are  restrained,  that  common  quest  is  undermined. 

History  teaches  that  the  threat  to  expressive  freedom  arises  not  just  from  censor- 
ship of  speech  that  we  as  a  society  commonly  value,  but  censorship  of  speech  that 
does  not  have  wide  support  or  obvious  merit.  Thus,  it  would  not  matter  if  a  majority 


of  the  public  believed  that  gangsta  rap  should  be  suppressed.  Constitutional  rights 
are  not  subject  to  majority  control,  and  "under  our  Constitution  the  public  expres- 
sion of  ideas  may  not  be  prohibited  merely  because  the  ideas  are  themselves  offen- 
sive to  some  of  their  hearers."  Street  v.  New  York,  394  U.S.  576,  592  (1969). 

It  is  important  to  note  here  that  these  are  decisions  of  taste  and  propriety  that 
can  and  should  vary  from  household  to  household.  There  is  no  proper  governmental 
role  here.  For  that  reason,  the  Court  has  correctly  observed  that  "it  is  precisely  be- 
cause government  officials  cannot  make  principled  distinctions  in  [the  arena  of  ex- 
pression] that  the  Constitution  leaves  matters  of  taste  and  style  so  largely  to  the 
individual."  Cohen  v.  California,  403  U.S.  15,  25  (1971).  Unlike  when  parents  or  pri- 
vate groups  rate  expressive  materials  in  this  manner,  the  Constitution  is  infringed 
when  government  acts  to  label  speech  "because  it  is  thought  unwise,  unfair,  false, 
or  dangerous."  Home  Box  Office.  Inc.  v.  FCC,  567  F.2d  9,  47  (D.C.  Cir.  1977)  (cita- 
tions omitted). 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Thank  you  very  much,  Ms.  Lee. 
Mr.  Bradley--we  are  going  to  skip  around  a  Uttle  bit— Mr.  Wal- 
lace Bradley  from  Chicago? 


Mr.  Bradley.  Good  morning,  Senator  Braun.  I  kind  of  hate  that 
the  great  Senator  Cohen  got  out  of  here  before  I  could  let  him  know 
that  if  Minister  Farrakhan  was  in  charge  of  the  record  industry, 
you  can  rest  assured  you  wouldn't  see  no  naked  women  on  no  cov- 
ers that  are  being  sold  nowhere.  You  can  rest  assured  you  wouldn't 
have  no  rappers  talking  about  shooting  my  brother  or  shooting  my 
sister.  So  out  of  respect  to  Senator  Cohen  and  out  of  respect  to 
Minister  Farrakhan,  I  am  not  speaking  for  him;  I  am  speaking  in 
defense  of  him  because  I  respect  him. 

First  and  foremost,  I  must  give  honor  to  God  for  allowing  me  to 
represent  African  men  and  women  in  our  struggle  to  overcome  per- 
ceive boundaries  that  for  far  too  long  have  obstructed  our  ability 
to  achieve  and  maintain  peace  and  brotherly  love  amongst  our- 
selves within  our  dealings  and  the  ability  to  communicate  with 
each  other. 

I  am  Wallace  "Gator"  Bradley,  co-founder,  director  and  spokes- 
man for  United  in  Peace,  a  gang  intervention  specialist  and  an  ad- 
vocate for  better  growth  and  development  for  all  African  men  and 
women.  The  three  most  important  and  highly  respected  women  in 
my  life  are  my  mother,  the  late  Ettie  Mae  Bradley;  my  wife,  Terry; 
and  my  daughter,  Africa.  I  would  never  condone  the  demeaning  of 
women  with  derogatory  name-calling  and/or  their  use  for  lewd  and 
sexual  exploitation.  I  denounce  and  deplore  any  promotion  of  vio- 
lence and  distribution,  sale,  and/or  the  use  of  guns  and  drugs. 

I  strongly  condemn  gangster  rap  being  held  responsible  for 
senseless  acts  of  misconduct  or  as  an  excuse  for  impulsive  homi- 
cide. I  am  against  the  unfavorable  focus  on  gangster  rap  to  the  fac- 
tual exclusion  that  that  art  form  is  obvious  of  the  many  afflictions 
of  our  times. 

As  the  parent  of  a  13-year-old  son,  Watari,  and  the  grandfather 
of  a  6-year-old  grandson,  Dwayne,  and  a  5-year-old  granddaughter, 
Portia,  I  know  that  the  music  of  choice  for  many  of  today's  youth 
is  gangster  rap.  The  fact  that  the  demand  for  gangster  rap  is  very 
high  in  and  of  itself  should  not  be  alarming.  Why?  Because  wheth- 
er society  at  large  accepts  it  or  not,  gangster  denotes  the  reality  of 
the  mind  set  of  our  children. 


It  appeals  to  our  children  because,  for  many,  it  is  carved  right 
from  the  pages  of  their  daily  lives  and  their  reality.  Society  there- 
fore should  experience  privilege  that  this  art  form  has  created  a 
window  to  allow  them  a  view  of  what  our  children  are  feeling  and 
living  in  order  that  they  may  become  better  parents,  teachers,  lead- 
ers and  communicators. 

Our  focus  should  be  to  correct  the  error  of  the  ways  that  led  us 
to  fail  our  children.  For  years,  we  have  failed  to  set  better  exam- 
ples, provide  better  choices,  reinforce  better  values.  More  impor- 
tantly, we  continue  to  fail  to  listen. 

I  understand  you.  Senator,  by  saying  this  is  not  a  censorship 
hearing,  but  there  are  those  that  are  trying  to  censor  gangster  rap 
in  some  type  of  form  or  another.  I  personally  believe  it  is  because 
they  realize  that  the  youth  in  the  street  have  a  way  to  once  again 
explain  themselves  and  communicate  with  themselves  since  the 
drum  was  taken  away  from  us. 

I  know  for  a  fact  that  many  rap  artists  have  come  to  great  artists 
like  yourself,  Dionne,  and  Jerry  and  a  whole  lot  of  artists  to  find 
out  how  to  get  involvement  in  this  industry.  A  lot  of  the  individuals 
that  are  in  the  record  industry  didn't  even  give  them  the  attention 
to  try  to  tell  them  how  to  do  what  is  right  and  what  is  wrong,  so 
they  had  to  go  and  create  the  music  for  themselves. 

Rap  did  not  get  out  of  whack  until  it  became  commercialized.  I 
want  to  make  that  point.  What  you  saw  up  there  was  something 
that  you  could  see  in  Penthouse  and  Playboy  Magazine,  and  it  is 
being  pushed  by  the  record  industry  that  doesn't  care  about  any- 
thing but  a  dollar. 

You  asked  the  woman  the  right  question.  They  need  to  be  held 
responsible  because  they  are  an  industry,  so  they  can  be  regulated 
by  the  Government.  First  of  all,  a  lot  of  the  record  companies  are 
not  even  owned  by  Americans.  Let  us  get  that  straight.  Japan 
doesn't  care  anything  about  us  as  a  people,  so  they  will  gladly  push 
what  Luther  wants  to  say  or  wants  to  show  around  the  world  to 
show  that  that  is  our  mind  set. 

I  did  4  years  and  a  day  in  Stateville  Penitentiary,  and  it  was  not 
because  of  a  song  that  I  heard.  It  was  because  I  got  caught  up  in 
the  times  and  thought  that  if  I  could  stick  someone  up,  that  would 
pay  my  rent.  It  was  not  a  song. 

I  think  in  a  funny  kind  of  way  we  ought  to  applaud  Snoop  Dog, 
not  because  of  what  he  said  but  because  of  what  he  did  that 
brought  us  all  here  to  this  room  to  try  to  find  solutions  to  make 
it  right.  Again,  that  is  how  God  works.  I  deal  with  solutions.  No 
one  applauded  the  gangster  rappers  when  they  all  came  together 
to  say  stop  the  violence.  Nobody  moved  on  a  radio  station  to  tell 
them  to  play  those  songs  every  V2  hour  on  the  hour  to  stop  our  chil- 
dren from  killing  one  another. 

I  saw  the  future  in  it  because  I  am  glad  that  John  Johnson  from 
Chicago,  Jet  Magazine,  had  enough  sense  to  have  a  24-hour  rap 
radio  station.  That  is  how  I  was  able  to  put  the  word  on  the  street 
through  that  station  to  stop  the  violence. 

Nobody  said  anything  about  Ice  T  and  all  the  other  gangster  rap- 
pers that  came  together,  like  the  song  that  Michael  Jordan  and  all 
the  other  artists  did  about  wrap  your  hands  around  world,  or  the 
way  of  the  world,  or  whatever  it  is.  They  came  together  to  say  stop 


the  violence,  and  no  one — I  have  a  lot  of  respect  for  Delores  Tucker 
and  I  am  saying,  just  like  she  showed  her  power  to  check  the 
record  stores  from  pushing  Snoop's  record,  I  hope  she  will  use  that 
same  power  to  make  sure  that  positive  rap  gets  the  same  righteous 
rap,  you  see  what  I  am  saying,  because  it  is  very  important. 

I  have  talked  with  Ice  T,  Snoop  and  all  of  them,  and  you  are 
going  to  see  lyrics  being  changed.  But  let  us  put  the  record  indus- 
try on  notice;  when  the  artist  says  he  wants  to  change  his  lyrics, 
don't  tell  him  you  can't  distribute  the  product,  because  they  would 
do  that. 

I  look  at  Snoop  and  a  lot  of  other  rappers  and  I  say,  hey,  they 
got  into  the  entrepreneurship  of  the  industry  game.  They  learned 
how  to  market,  to  sell,  to  promote  and  to  distribute.  The  record  in- 
dustry tried  to  destroy  rap,  OK,  but  they  couldn't,  and  I  loved  it 
because  I  saw  them  selling  tapes  as  opposed  to  selling  rocks. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  By  "rocks"  you  mean  drugs? 

Mr.  Bradley.  Drugs. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Just  to  clarify  the  record. 

Mr.  Bradley.  Yes,  "rocks"  means  drugs.  When  I  see  that  not 
only  are  they  musical  geniuses,  but  look  at  the  videos,  those  that 
are  positive  videos.  You  see  them  become  directors  putting  out  a 
message,  and  they  are  putting  out  the  word  about  the  importance 
about  registering  to  vote.  We  have  a  lot  of  history  that  if  we  sit 
down  with  the  rappers  and  give  them  the  history  of  the  struggle 
that  Ms.  Tucker  has  done  and  others  before  her  have  done  and  let 
that  message  go  out,  it  would  sound  a  positive  thing  where  they 
would  no  longer  want  to  kill  one  another  because  they  will  know 
that  people  have  died  that  didn't  kill  one  another,  but  have  died 
to  try  to  bring  about  a  change. 

You  see  where  2  Pop — even  though  he  has  got  caught  up,  he 
came  out  with  the  cut  "Keep  Your  Head  Up,"  explaining  to  a  man 
that  it  is  wrong  not  to  take  care  of  his  child.  We  have  got  to  look 
at  the  sisters  in  the  rap  game,  too,  now.  Salt  'n  Peppa  is  throwing 
down  real  raw,  too,  now. 

I  didn't  mean  to  make  a  long  story  out  of  this.  It  is  just  some- 
thing that  we  need  to  take  the  opportunity  to  use  gangster  rap  as 
a  fork  in  the  road  of  change  and  learn  to  communicate  with  and 
reinvest  in  our  children.  I  want  my  2-year-old  son,  Kadmiel,  to 
grow  up  believing  that  there  is  for  him  real  freedom  of  speech  and 
the  right  to  choose,  for  we  must  not  forget  that  we  have  all  been 

First  Corinthians  13:11  states,  "When  I  was  a  child,  I  spoke  as 
a  child,  I  understand  as  a  child,  I  thought  as  a  child.  When  I  be- 
came a  man,  I  put  away  childish  things."  The  evolution  here  is  one 
derived  from  a  mature  process  gained  through  knowledge.  The  im- 
plication is  clear.  This  is  an  educational  process  that  you  call  to- 
gether here,  and  you  can  rest  assured  when  we  leave  this  room 
1994  is  going  to  be  real  great  because  those  rappers  are  going  to 
come  out  and  they  are  going  to  apologize  to  the  women. 

You  know,  you  are  going  to  see  the  press  conferences  and  they 
are  going  to  apologize  to  the  people  because  now  that  Ice  T  and  all 
of  them  have  got  their  own  money,  they  are  now  in  control  of  them- 
selves and  they  have  got  their  own  record  companies  and  they  are 
going  to  put  the  real  values  into  this.  They  are  not  going  to  be  de- 


pending  on  a  company  that  is  bought  by  Japan  that  doesn't  care 
anything  about  us,  telling  them  what  should  be  put  on  it.  I  mean, 
seeing  those  covers  is  atrocious  to  me.  For  them  to  put  something 
like  that  in  the  market,  and  the  advisory — the  record  company  may 
mean  well,  but  it  doesn't  mean  anjrthing.  It  has  got  the  same  thing 
like  you  put  on  the  package  of  cigarettes  to  tell  you  if  you  smoke 
the  cigarette,  you  are  going  to  catch  cancer  and  it  is  going  to  kill 
the  baby,  and  they  still  smoke  the  cigarette. 

I  do  know  that,  hey,  because  you  don't  see  the  gangster  rappers 
here  and  because  Farrakhan  wasn't  here,  the  spirit  of  love  and  re- 
spect for  our  women  is  not  here.  It  is  here  and  it  is  in  full  effect. 

Peace.  [Applause.] 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Thank  you  very  much,  Mr.  Bradley. 

We  have  precious  little  time  and  I  do  want  to  hear  from  Mr, 
James  and  from  Mr.  Ridley  so  we  can  complete  this  last  panel  be- 
fore the  superintendent  forcibly  removes  us  from  this  room. 

So,  Mr.  James,  why  don't  you  go  next,  and  if  you  can  be  quick, 
we  would  really  appreciate  it. 


Mr.  E.  James.  Yes,  I  will  be  within  5  minutes.  First,  I  would  like 
to  say  I  am  Errol  James  and  I  am  representing  myself  and  some 
young  people  from  my  neighborhood.  I  want  to  give  you  a  little  bit 
of  history  about  myself. 

I  am  a  22-year-old  native  of  Harlem  who  dropped  out  of  high 
school  at  15.  During  this  time  in  my  life,  I  was  involved  with  every- 
thing that  was  negative  in  my  community.  I  believed  drugs  and 
guns  were  the  tools  young  black  men  living  in  America  needed  in 
order  to  get  ahead  in  life.  Fear  of  incarceration  dwelled  in  the  back 
of  my  mind  day  in  and  day  out,  but  never  stopped  me  from  what 
I  was  doing. 

Because  I  was  tired  of  watching  my  mother  struggle  to  make 
ends  meet,  it  was  time  for  me  to  go  out  into  the  world  and  make 
something  happen.  But  as  a  teenage  G,  gangster,  with  limited 
skills,  I  could  not  find  legitimate  employment.  Therefore,  I  had  to 
make  use  of  what  I  had,  which  was  my  street  knowledge  and  con- 
tacts. I  later  went  back  to  school,  got  my  GED  and  went  on  to  col- 
lege, a  local  university.  I  wanted  to  give  that  history  about  myself 
because  I  am  a  dedicated  hip-hop  listener,  fan,  whatever  you  want 
to  call  it. 

Three  quick  things.  I  believe  rap  music  often  represents  some 
young  person's  cry  for  a  life  with  some  opportunities.  To  change  the 
lyrics  and  their  effects,  we  must  better  the  living  conditions  for 
youth  in  our  inner  cities,  number  one.  Number  two,  I  applaud 
Queen  Latifah  for  making  the  record,  "Unity,"  in  which  she  talks 
about  the  words  "bitch"  and  "ho"  and  stuff  like  that.  That  is  the 
only  way  that  it  is  going  to  change.  The  same  channels  that  this 
violence  and  demeaning  lyrics  got  out  on  are  the  same  channels 
that  the  positiveness  must  come  in  through.  So,  that  is  the  type  of 
stuff  that  we  need  to  see  more.  We  need  to  see  more  people  from 
inside  the  hip-hop  community,  more  artists,  people  who  have  dif- 
ferent experiences  and  have  different  views,  voice  those  through 
rap,  through  hip-hop. 


I  also  believe  that  the  responsibilities  of  circulating  or  selling  any 
kind  of  music  are  just  as  important  as  the  responsibilities  of  per- 
forming and  producing  music.  So  if  the  record  industry  doesn't 
want  to  take  that  responsibility,  I  believe  that  the  young  artists, 
the  listeners  and  the  consumers  need  to  take  that  responsibility. 
Snoop  Dog  made  an  album  called  "Doggy  Style,"  but  he  didn't  make 
anybody  but  it.  There  is  some  responsibility  that  has  to  be  placed 
on  the  consumers,  in  my  opinion. 

Again,  I  think  that  basically  the  most  effective  way  to  combat 
these  types  of  songs  is  for  young  people — the  message  has  to  come 
from  within.  Legislative  efforts  can't  be  imposed  on  hip-hop.  It 
started  in  the  street,  it  still  is  in  the  street  and  it  will  remain  in 
the  street.  Personally,  I  believe  that  the  only  reason  we  are  having 
this  hearing  today  is  because  some  people  in  the  record  industry, 
you  know,  saw  that  young  people  could  be  exploited  and  they  could 
make  money  off  of  young  people.  So  this  rap  thing  was  basically 
communication  among  ourselves  in  the  communities,  in  the  hoods; 
like  he  said,  the  tapes  that  were  being  sold  out  of  the  cars  on  the 
corners,  in  the  train  stations,  the  tapes  that  were  being  sold  in- 
stead of  the  crack. 

We  carved  a  niche  in  society,  and  that  is  what  we  used  to  ex- 
press how  v/e  felt,  to  get  a  point  across,  to  make  some  money.  But 
there  were  some  people  who  felt  that  they  could  make  more  money 
off  of  that,  so  it  over-spilled  into  the  large  society.  These  t3rpes  of 
lyrics,  this  type  of  behavior — I  am  22  years  old;  I  have  heard  this 
ever  since  I  have  been  listening  to  so-called  gangster  rap. 

To  sum  this  all  up,  there  needs  to  be  more  opportunities  for 
young  people,  in  general,  so  they  can  experience  different  things, 
so  they  can  rap  about  different  things.  If  all  we  see  is  drugs  and 
guns  in  the  community,  that  is  all  we  know  to  rap  about.  I  don't 
believe  that  it  is  to  be  censored,  but  there  does  need  to  be  some 
responsibility.  Somebody  needs  to  take  responsibility,  and  I  think 
that  it  should  come  from  within  the  hip-hop  community. 

I  am  not  asking  anybody  outside  the  hip-hop  community,  the 
record  industry,  even  though  I  do  believe  there  is  some  responsibil- 
ity there.  But  the  hip-hop  community  must  take  the  full  respon- 
sibility because  we  are  the  ones  who  listen  to  this.  We  are  the  ones 
who  create  this  music.  It  is  ours  and  we  must  maintain  control 
over  it.  See,  we  have  lost  a  little  control  now,  so  it  is  wild  and  we 
are  being  projected  as  gangster  rappers  when  that  is  not  nec- 
essarily what  we  wanted  to  project.  We  wanted  to  project  the  times 
that  we  were  going  through,  the  decisions  that  we  had  to  make, 
why  we  choose  to  sell  drugs  instead  of  go  to  school  and  stuff  like 
that.  That  is  the  cause.  We  focus  a  lot  on  the  effect.  We  need  to 
focus  more  on  the  cause. 

That  is  about  all  I  have  to  say.  [Applause.] 

[The  prepared  statement  of  Mr.  James  follows:] 

Prepared  Statement  of  Errol  Kenya  James 

I'm  a  twenty  two  year  old  native  of  Harlem  who  dropped  out  of  high  school  at 
fifteen.  During  this  time  in  my  life  I  was  involved  with  everything  that  was  negative 
in  my  community.  I  believed  drugs  and  guns  were  the  tools  young  black  men  living 
in  America  needed  in  order  to  get  ahead  in  life.  Fear  of  incarceration  dwelled  in  the 
back  of  my  mind  day  in  and  out  but  never  stopped  me  from  what  I  was  doing  I 
was  tired  of  watching  my  mother  struggle  to  make  ends  meet.  It  was  time  for  me 

o«_:»QO  n  -  Q^i  -  5 


to  go  out  into  the  world  and  make  something  happen.  But  as  a  teenage  G  (gangster) 
with  Hmited  skills  I  could  not  find  legitimate  employment  therefore  I  had  to  make 
use  of  what  I  had  which  was  my  street  knowledge  and  contacts. 

At  seventeen  I  went  back  to  school  in  pursuit  of  my  equivalency  diploma  and 
within  the  first  year  of  my  enrollment  I  graduated  and  decided  to  go  on  to  college. 
Although  I  wanted  badly  to  get  out  of  the  city,  I  attended  a  local  college  for  financial 
reasons.  My  interest  was  in  government  ana  public  administration  because  I  began 
to  realize  the  commitment  I  have  to  my  community  and  it's  improvement.  I  still 
yearn  to  attend  school  away  from  the  city  of  New  York  so  therefore  after  my  first 
year  at  a  community  college  I  chose  to  suspend  my  studies  so  I  could  work  and  save 
the  money  needed. 

A.  Rap  music  often  represent  some  young  person's  cry  for  a  life  with  some  oppor- 
tunities. To  change  the  lyrics  and  their  effects,  we  must  better  the  living  conditions 
for  youth  in  our  inner  cities. 

B.  I  do  not  believe  that  censorship  of  rap  music  is  the  best  way  to  control  the 
effects  of  poverty.  Those  of  us  from  the  Hip-Hop  community  are  a  special  target  for 
violent  and  demeaning  treatment  beyond  rap  music. 

C.  I  also  believe  the  responsibilities  of  circulating  and  selling  any  kind  of  music 
are  just  as  important  as  the  responsibilities  of  performing  and  producing  music. 

D.  An  effective  anti-crime  strategy  would  empower  young  people  in  America  politi- 
cally, socially  and  economically.  To  impose  legislation  won't  make  the  difference  on 
the  streets  of  our  inner  cities.  To  involve  young  people  would  be  the  beginning  of 

E.  I  have  looked  over  the  proposed  crime  bills.  My  one  and  strong  recommenda- 
tion is  that  young  people  in  inner  city  neighborhoods  be  given  opportunities  to  orga- 
nize and  start  programs  designed  to  improve  their  lives  and  futures  before  they  get 
into  trouble  or  become  incarcerated. 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Thank  you.  That  was  very  eloquent. 
Mr.  Ridley? 


Mr.  Ridley.  I  guess,  as  in  life,  I  am  the  last  one  any  of  you  all 
want  to  see.  I  am  last  on  the  program.  [Laughter.] 

Good  afternoon  to  the  distinguished  members  of  this  Senatorial 
committee.  It  is  with  great  respect  and  honor  to  be  able  to  address 
this  legislative  body.  My  name  is  Keith  A.  Ridley,  IV,  and  I  serve 
as  President  and  General  Manager  of  my  family's  firm,  the  Ridley 
Funeral  Establishment,  here  in  Washington,  DC,  A.K.A.,  by  na- 
tional press  accounts.  Murder  Capital  U.S.A. 

Yet,  this  afternoon  I  am  not  here  to  sell  any  of  you  a  preneed 
package  on  eternal  rest.  However,  I  sit  proudly  to  express  my  views 
from  the  perspective  two-fold;  first,  being  a  businessman  of  the 
community  and,  second,  as  a  young  African  American  male  who 
has  membership  in  this  so-called  lost  generation  of  misguided 
youth  in  America. 

In  the  mid-  to  late  1980's  at  the  peak  of  the  crack  trade,  a  new 
menace  to  society  was  allowed  to  invade  our  homes  in  the  form  of 
art  entertainment,  as  it  was  called.  The  sleek  network  program- 
ming of  TV  shows  such  as  "Miami  Vice"  and  "Crime  Stories"  and 
the  Hollywood  movies  such  as  "Scarface"  and  "The  Godfather" 
sagas  have  all  projected  the  glamorized  view  that  violence — well,  it 
is  OK  to  pump  your  gat,  which  means  gun,  into  another  human 
being  simply  because  you  felt  that  power  to  pull  the  trigger. 

However,  as  I  listened  to  the  various  organizations  and  individ- 
uals this  morning  and  this  afternoon  speak  very  elegantly  and 
truly  poignantly  about  the  so-called  gangster  rappers'  nastiness, 
well,  the  rappers  in  the  1990's  are  regarded  by  some  as  our  new 
poets,  the  messengers,  the  CNN  network  of  the  black  and  white 
communities  that  extend  across  all  ethnic,  social,  economic  and  ra- 


cial  lines  to  report  the  straight  knowledge  to  mainstream  America. 
At  this  point,  in  my  eyes,  they  are  not  the  real  problem.  Senator. 
They  are  only  a  seedling  of  the  frustration  that  was  sowed  long 

When  the  Framers  of  the  Constitution  laid  the  foundation,  which 
included  the  right  to  bear  arms  and  the  freedom  of  speech,  it  was 
regarded  as  a  sacred  right  by  the  forefathers,  as  an  individual  right 
with  respect  to  each  other's  freedoms  and  liberties.  Yet,  we  under- 
stand today  with  every  provision  there  is  some  form  of  scurrility. 

We  have  to  understand  that  this  was  a  violent  country  that  we 
have  been  in  both  domestically  and  internationally,  and  I  could  go 
on  and  name  some  things,  but  in  the  effort  of  time  I  am  not  going 
to  do  that  because  we  know  what  they  are.  Let  me  move  on. 

The  bottom  line  is  "We  are  reaping  what  has  been  sown  us"  and 
as  the  "crow  is  crowing"  from  coast  to  coast,  "where  is  thy  peace? 
"  Today,  in  the  1990's,  we  have  all  sorts  of  conferences,  forums  and 
panels  about  violence  in  inner  cities  and  urbanized  communities, 
but  that  is  just  another  way  of  putting  a  black  face  on  violence. 

Ladies  and  gentlemen,  it  is  not  a  black  thing.  It  is  all  over  the 
country,  the  suburbs,  and  even  worldwide.  It  is  a  people  thing,  so 
let  us  not  sit  here  today  fooling  ourselves  to  believe  that  the  lack 
of  moral  and  true  adult  leadership  in  this  Nation  is  a  recent  thing. 
Yet,  somehow  the  frustration  evinces  itself  in  many  different  areas. 

As  a  young  black  professional  male  between  the  ages  of  16  and 
35,  because  that  is  who  is  getting  killed,  I  feel  the  pain  that  the 
rappers  preach  about  the  system.  You  tend  to  understand  the 
seething  anger  that  comes  out  of  their  hearts.  But  then  I  say  to  the 
rappers,  Mr.  Scarface,  Paris,  M.C.  Ren,  Ice  T,  the  Getto  Boys  and, 
yes,  Bushwick  Bill,  Eazy  E  and  NWA,  my  brothers,  it  is  time  to 
stop  the  madness  of  self-hatred,  constantly  propounding  the  mes- 
sage that  is  spilling  our  precious  blood  for  nothing.  Is  this  the  an- 
swer to  replacing  low  self-esteem,  to  fulfilling  the  content  of  the  so- 
called  American  dream?  It  doesn't  make  sense. 

If  we  understand  our  past,  then  we  as  a  people  can  conquer  the 
future.  Whatever  else  is  said  about  the  powers  of  violence,  it  is  only 
through  self-help,  personal  responsibility  and  personal  initiative 
that  must  be  used  as  a  tool  to  express  that  the  mighty  gun  is  not 
the  solution. 

Please,  I  ask  you,  don't  tell  me  that  it  can't  be  done.  I  am  proof 
positive  that  all  of  us  are  not  lost  and  in  danger.  In  December  of 
1991,  at  24,  my  brother,  Vincent,  and  my  two  cousins,  Marco  and 
Corinthian — we  didn't  wait  for  anybody  to  give  it  to  us.  Out  of 
nothing,  we  formed  our  own  corporation.  We  did  not  have  one  red 
penny.  You  know,  3  years  later  we  are  running  a  successful  funeral 
establishment,  under  the  age  of  30,  showing  the  city,  the  country 
and  the  masses  in  mainstream  America  that  all  of  us  are  not  rob- 
bing, dealing  and  killing. 

But  before  I  conclude,  I  must  also  express  that  I  do  wish  that 
some  of  you— and  Senator  Cohen  got  away — could  just  go  to  ^york 
with  me  for  one  day  and  see  the  impact  of  violence  that  is  given 
to  my  responsibility.  I  deal  with  death  every  day.  I  am  a  mortician, 
and  it  hurts  my  heart  because  I  am  tired  of  burying  my  young 
brothers  and  sisters  and  the  endless  trips  to  the  cemetery. 


I  am  tired  of  hearing  the  little  children  say  to  me,  Mr.  Funeral 
Man,  why  don't  my  daddy  wake  up,  or  to  hear  another  young  moth- 
er crying,  Lord,  Lord,  why  my  baby  got  shot.  I  don't  know  what  to 
tell  this  woman.  I  am  tired  another  young  black  boy  who  will  never 
marry,  finish  high  school,  get  to  college,  hold  a  full-time  job,  or 
even  see  his  30th  birthday.  It  is  so  unnatural  to  die  young,  espe- 
cially by  a  bullet.  As  Ms.  Warwick  said,  it  is  time  for  my  peers  to 
start  planning  their  future,  not  my  $1,500  special,  as  a  young  girl 
wrote  about  in  the  Washington  Post  a  couple  of  months  ago. 

I  know  many  of  you  here  today  don't  have  a  clue  about  what  goes 
on  out  there  in  the  hood.  Even  Mayor  Kelly  a  few  days  ago — you 
know,  after  4  years  in  office,  she  states  that  she  truly  doesn't  really 
know  what  is  happening,  and  she  is  the  mayor  of  the  city. 

It  is  not  just  about  the  rap  lyrics  this  morning.  It  is  the  portrait 
that  has  been  painted  centuries  ago.  As  the  screams  for  peace  in 
the  hood  are  cried  daily,  then  I  ask  you  to  bring  jobs  as  well.  We 
know  that  jobs  will  reduce  crime,  bring  on  economic  stability 
among  the  masses.  Everybody  wins.  Looking  to  the  penal  system 
does  not  change  one's  ideology.  You  know,  three  strikes  and  you 
are  out  is  not  going  to  do  it.  If  we  can  stop  a  Cuban  cigar  from  get- 
ting here,  then  why  can't  we  stop  drugs,  guns,  violence? 

You  know,  today  the  only  one  that  can  save  us  is  us.  If  not  us, 
then  who?  The  struggle  continues  day  by  day.  Our  future,  if  it  is 
going  to  be  nonviolent,  requires  that  we  stop  talking  about  it  and 
create  jobs  with  equal  pay,  place  economic  empowerment  from  the 
bank  to  the  school  house  to  the  church  house,  make  that  a  priority. 
All  of  us  have  marched  too  long,  worked  too  hard  and  prayed  too 
long.  If  we  grab  our  fair  share,  then  maybe  this  awful  violence  will 
abate  itself. 

But  today  I  appeal  to  you — and  the  rest  of  them  need  to  hear 
this,  too — that  it  is  time  to  cut  the  gridlock,  stop  the  pork-barreling 
and  the  Beltway  politics  and  be  about  the  real  business  of  what 
government  is  all  about,  and  that  is  for  the  people,  of  the  people 
and  by  the  people. 

Thank  you.  [Applause.] 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  Thank  you.  Now,  let  me  thank  this 
panel.  You  were  all  very  eloquent.  I  understand,  before  we  adjourn, 
Ms.  Warwick  and  Dr.  Tucker  had  some  young  people  here  whom 
they  wanted  to  introduce,  one  of  whom  we  saw  on  the  video  mon- 
itor. So  if  you  will  just  take  a  moment,  we  will  do  that  and  then 
we  will  conclude. 

Dr.  Tucker? 

Ms.  Tucker.  We  would  like  to  recognize  the  young  members 
from  the  hood  who  are  a  part  of  the  Entertainment  Commission  co- 
chaired  by  Dionne  Warwick  and  Terry  Rossi  and  Melba  Moore,  and 
that  is  Tyreen  Wilson,  whom  you  saw  in  the  video.  She  is  our  re- 
search director  for  the  lyrics  which  she  told  us  we  needed  to  hear 
and  she  didn't  like  hearing. 

Peace  in  the  Hood  is  a  group  of  young  brothers  who  have  positive 
rap.  They  are  in  the  business  of  selling  these  shirts  to  let  everyone 
know  that  there  is  not  only  violence  in  the  hood,  but  there  is  peace 
in  the  hood.  If  you  will  turn  around,  they  have  a  positive  rap  on 
the  back  here  which  they  can't  get  any  record  industry  to  promote. 
It  says,  "Let's  Get  Together." 


If  I  could,  give  I  just  have  them  address  you  for  30  seconds? 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  30  seconds. 

Ms.  Tucker.  I  would  rather  let  the  young  people  speak  just  30 

Senator  Moseley-Braun.  30  seconds. 

Ms.  Tucker.  Tyreen,  just  30  seconds. 

Senator  Moseley-Brau^.  Quickly,  because  we  are  over  time. 

Ms.  Wilson.  What  I  would  like  to  say  is  I  did  some  volunteer 
work  service  in  elementary  schools  for  2nd  and  3rd  and  4th  grad- 
ers, and  I  am  kind  of  limbo  in  regard  to  this  gangster  rap  thing. 
A  lot  of  it  should  not  be  sold.  It  should  be  in  a  pornographic  shop 
with  all  of  the  other  magazines  that  this  gentleman  was  just  talk- 
ing about. 

The  children  are  affected  by  it.  I  mean,  I  was  devastated  that  a 
lot  of  these  children  come  to  the  schools  and  they  sing  this  stuff 
to  me  and  they  ask  me,  don't  you  like  that,  don't  you  think  Snoop 
Dog  is  great,  and  all  that.  I  am  like,  wait  a  minute,  no,  it  is  not 
because  they  are  saying  "bitches"  and  "hoes"  and  they  want  to  stab 
each  other  up.  I  have  been  in  so  many  fights  with  these  children 
trying  to  kill  each  other  in  the  classroom  with  pens,  and  it  is  not 
an  exaggeration.  So  it  does  need  to  be  controlled  seriously. 

Thank  you. 

Senator  Moseley-Bral'N.  Thank  you  very  much. 

These  are  the  gentlemen  with  Peace  in  the  Hood?  You  are  with 
Peace  in  the  Hood? 

Mr.  Singleton.  Yes,  ma'am.  My  name  is  Gary  Singleton.  I  come 
from  New  Orleans,  LA.  I  grew  up  in  the  projects,  so  I  live  basically 
this  gangster  rap  that  everybody  is  talking  about.  I  lived  that  stuff. 
But,  you  know,  it  is  like  when  your  mom  spanks  your  behind,  you 
don't  want  to  keep  living  that,  you  know.  You  want  to  get  away 
from  that,  so  basically  what  we  did  was  we  started  our  own  com- 
pany called  Dinka  Enterprises,  which  means  "peace,"  and  we  came 
up  with  this  clothing  line. 

We  have  a  positive  rap  song  that  was  the  number  one  song  here 
in  DC,  2  years  ago.  We  couldn't  get  anyone  in  the  record  industry 
to  support  us. 

Senator  Moseley-Bralisi.  Well,  you  know  what?  Let  me  cut  you 
off.  This  might  be  a  lovely  note  for  us  to  conclude.  Senator  Cohen 
just  came  back.  Why  don't  you  rap  your  positive  rap  and  then  we 
will  cut  off  the  hearing?  Go  for  it. 

Mr.  Singleton.  This  is  a  portion  of  the  song  on  the  back  of  the 
shirts  that  we  have  out.  It  says: 

Peace  is  a  state  of  mind  benefitting  mankind  because  violence  is  unkind,  dating 
back  to  the  first  days  of  time.  It's  time  for  us  to  bust  a  positive  line.  Fighting,  killing 
is  a  form  of  insanity.  When  someone  dies,  there's  a  loss  to  humanity.  Some  don't 
get  involved  because  they're  not  concerned,  but  when  the  bomb  come  down,  every- 
body bum.  Is  this  the  way  God  planned  it  to  happen  or  is  it  just  nonsense,  the  stuff 
that  I've  been  rapping?  It's  just  something  everybody  ought  to  think  about.  It's  a 
part  of  reahty,  no  doubt.  Is  it  so  hard  for  human  beings  to  get  along?  Why  kill  to 
show  that  killing  is  wrong?  Senseless  violence,  now  what  does  it  say  to  me?  It's  not 
a  form  of  p-e-a-c-e  because  war  is  a  sin.  To  be  blunt,  you  can  sin  many  times,  but 
you  only  die  once,  so  peace  is  the  program  you  need  to  get  with.  Don't  be  a  misfit 
or  a  nit  wit.  Peace  on  earth,  goodwill  toward  men,  If  you  want  to  beat  your  enemy, 
then  make  them  your  friend. 

And  we  are  out.  [Applause.] 


Senator  Moseley-Brai:^\  All  right.  With  that,  the  hearing  is  ad- 
journed. Thank  you  all  very,  very  much. 

[Whereupon,  at  3:08  p.m.,  the  subcommittee  was  adjourned.] 


Additional  Submissions  for  the  Record 

Lester  Swartz, 
Toledo,  OH,  February  28,  1994. 

Hon.  Herbert  Kohl, 
Committee  on  the  Judiciary, 
U.S.  Senate,  Washington,  DC. 

Dear  Senator  Kohl:  I  have  enclosed  a  copy  of  my  formal  complaint  sent  by  fax, 
on  February  25,  1994,  to  Ms.  Cathy  Poston  in  nominations.  I  have  also  requested 
that  this  complaint  be  made  a  part  of  the  official  record,  before  the  confirmation  vote 
by  the  Executive  Committee,  of  Florida  Chief  Justice,  Rosemary  Barkett's  nomina- 
tion to  the  United  States  Court  of  Appeals  for  the  Eleventh  Circuit. 

As  alluded  to  in  the  above  complaint,  the  appearance  of  impropriety  that  seems 
to  exist  in  the  United  States  Court  of  Appeals  for  the  Eleventh  Circuit,  arises  be- 
cause of  the  nearly  four  month  lack  of  due  response,  regarding  the  three  judicial 
misconduct  complaints  against  the  said  members  of  the  opinion  panel,  filed  by  my- 
self, with  the  Clerk  of  the  Circuit,  and,  in  fact,  given  by  the  Clerk's  office,  in  fact 
to  Chief  Judge  Bard  Tsoflat  or  his  office,  for  his  duly  expeditious  action. 

In  light  of  the  matters  raised  in  mv  complaint  and  the  fact  that  Chief  Judge 
Tsoflat,  is  also  a  member  of  the  Florida  Bar;  the  fact  that  Judge  Tsoflat,  has  not 
timely  responded  to  these  said  judicial  misconduct  complaints  to  date;  the  fact  that 
Judge  Woodrow  Hatchett  is  a  member  of  the  Florida  Bar  and  was  a  member  of  the 
opinion  panel;  the  fact  that  Judge  Hatchett,  was  a  former  member  of  the  Florida 
Supreme  Court;  the  fact  that  Judge  Hatchett,  did  not  disquaUfy  himself  from  the 
opinion  panel;  the  fact  that  I  was  not  duly  informed  of  Judge  Hatchett's  presence 
on  the  panel;  the  fact  that  the  other  members  of  the  opinion  panel.  Judge  Dubina 
and  Judge  Anderson,  reasonably  knew  of  Judge  Hatchett's  relationship  with  the 
Florida  Bar  and  the  Florida  Supreme  Court  and  appear  to  have  simply,  if  you  will, 
"gone  with  the  flow;"  legitimately  and  reasonably,  raises  very  serious  questions  of 
the  appearance  of  impropriety  that  manifestly  has  surrounded  my  case  from  it's  in- 

In  short,  it  seems,  perhaps  for  obvious  reasons,  I  can  only  have  the  fate  of  this 
matter  determined,  for  the  most  part,  by  members  of  the  Florida  Bar,  and  have 
been  unjustly  denied  mv  day  in  Court  and  trial  by  a  jury  of  my  peers,  most  repug- 
nant to  the  Seventh  Amendment  to  the  Constitution  and  the  supposed  American 
way."  Needless  to  say,  this  "Florida  Bargate"  matter,  does  not  sit  well  with  me,  and 
I  am  more  than  certain,  will  not  sit  well  with  the  American  people. 

For  yoiu-  information,  I  have  already  filed  complaints  to  the  following  Florida  Bar- 
member  controlled.  State  Attorneys  Offices  in  Dade  County,  Broward  County,  and 
Palm  Beach  County;  the  Florida  Department  of  Law  Enforcement;  the  Honda 
Statewide  Prosecutor's  Office;  the  Florida  Department  of  Legal  Affairs;  the  Florida 
Attorney  General's  Office;  the  Florida  Supreme  Court;  the  Umted  States  Attorney's 
Office,  and  the  Office  of  the  Governor.  I  have  also  been  in  contact  with  the  Federal 
Bureau  of  Investigation,  the  United  States  Postal  Authorities,  the  Umted  States 
Justice  Department  and  their  Section  on  Public  Integrity,  but,  for  reasonably  obvi- 
ous reasons,  to  no  avail. 



I  have  a  great  problem  with  the  above  believed  official  misconduct  on  the  part 
of  the  above  said  agencies  and  with  all  that  has  transpired  to  date  in  this  subject 
matter,  and  would  greatly  appreciate  it,  if  you  personally,  perchance,  would  look 
into  my  said  concerns  and  inform  me  by  letter  or  fax,  what  action,  if  any,  you  or 
your  committee,  or  both,  can  or  will  expeditiously  take,  to  rectify  this  most  intoler- 
able and  obvious  surreptitious  threat  to  the  judiciary  and  our  national  Interests. 

I,  respectfully  request,  and  sincerely  hope,  that  you  will  duly  share  and  address 
my  just  concerns  regarding  the  aforesaid  issues,  and  hope  that  someday,  when  the 
facts  are  fiilly  related,  you  will  understand,  my  immediate  and  vehement  resolve, 
that  the  Florida  Bar  and  the  Justices  of  the  Florida  Supreme  Court,  will  be  held 
totally  accountable  for  their  most  heinous  and  treasonous  acts. 


Lester  Swartz. 

Lester  Swartz, 
Toledo,  OH,  February  24,  1994. 
Ms.  Kathy  Poston, 
Committee  on  the  Judiciary, 
U.S.  Senate,  Washington,  DC. 

Dear  Ms.  Poston:  I  respectfully  request  this  letter  be  made  a  part  of  the  official 
record,  as  my  just  and  vehement  protest  to  FLORIDA  SUPREME  COURT  CHIEF 
JUSTICE,  ROSEMARY  BARRETT'S  nomination  to  the  Eleventh  Circuit  Court  of 
Appeals.  I  am  further  respectfully  requesting  that  a  copy  of  this  letter  expeditiously 
be  given  to  each  and  every  member  of  the  Senate  Judiciary  Committee,  before  the 
final  confirmation  vote.  Upon  request,  I  will  be  more  than  willing  to  furnish  copies 
to  this  committee  of  any  and  all  documents  which  will  undeniably  support  the  facts 

That  based  upon  my  personal  knowledge  of  the  events  below  and  certain  docu- 
ments and  information  contained  in  the  cases  listed  below,  Florida  Chief  Justice, 
Rosemary  Barkett's  confirmation  to  the  United  States  Eleventh  Circuit  Court  of  Ap- 
peals Poses,  a  crystal  clear  and  present  danger  to  the  Judiciary  and  to  our  National 
interests  and  security.  Further,  her  membership  on  this  particular  Court  of  Appeals, 
based  upon  recently  discovered  information  and  belief,  would  only  add  to  the  appear- 
ance of  impropriety  that  seems  to  currently  exist  in  this  same  said  Court  of  Appeals. 

A  "fair  and  impartial"  reading  of  the  record  of  these  cases  below,  shovild  clearly 
demonstrate  to  this  committee,  that  Florida  Chief  Justice,  Rosemary  Barkett,  while 
she  was  acting  under  oath  and  under  color  of  law  knowingly  engaged  in  outrageous 
official  misconduct  that  was: 

1.  Prejudicial  to  the  due  administration  of  justice 

2.  Conduct  unbecoming  a  member  of  the  judiciary 

3.  Conduct  unbecoming  a  member  of  the  Florida  Bar,  and, 

4.  Conduct  unbecoming  a  member  of  each  and  every  Bar  of  which  she  is 
a  member. 

The  cases  and  records  include,  but  are  not  limited  to,  the  following: 


The  record  of  these  cases  will  show  that  Florida  Chief  Rosemary  Barkett,  as  well 
as  the  present  justices  of  the  Supreme  Court,  in  fact,  knew,  or  reasonably  should 
have  known:  That  the  arm  of  the  Florida  Supreme  Court,  the  Florida  bar,  via  certain 
named  corrupt  and  out  of  control,  Florida  bar  officials,  in  fact: 

1.  Willfully,  wantonly,  maliciously  and  with  criminal  intent  conspired  and 
contrived,  to  put  on  a  "sham  disciplinary  trial,"  before  a  Florida  Supreme 
Court  appointed  referee,  that  illegally  resulted  in  the  respondent.  Attorney 
Peter  Margolin,  being  aided  and  abetted  and  held  harmless  from  any  due 
disciplinary  action  whatsoever.  Further,  that  in  a  pattern  of  ongoing 
schemes  and  artifices  to  defraud  and  in  an  endeavor  to  aid  and  abet 
Margolin  and  obstruct  the  disciplinary  prosecution  of  Margolin  certain 
named  Florida  bar  officials: 

A.  Conspired  to  actively  conceal,  from  the  referee,  during  the  said  discipli- 
nary trial,  fraudulent  letters,  caused  by  Margolin,  that  were  known,  or  rea- 
sonably should  have  been  known  to  be  false,  by  the  Florida  bar  staff  offi- 



cials,  Margolin,  and,  later,  to  all  of  the  Justices  of  the  Florida  Supreme 
Court,  thereby  aiding  and  abetting  Margolin  in  his  illegal  acts. 

B.  Conspired  to  actively  conceal  known  vital  testimony  and  witnesses  from 
the  aforesaid  referee,  thereby  aiding  and  abetting  Margolin  in  his  illegal 

C.  Aided,  abetted,  and  conspired  to  fraudulently  portray  the  disciplinary  ac- 
tion as  legitimate. 

D.  Aided,  abetted,  and  conspired  to  fraudulently  portray  further  investiga- 
tions into  these  matters  as  being  legitimate 


As  a  result  of  the  above  sham  disciplinary  trial,  Swartz,  pro-se,  filed  this  action 
against  the  Florida  Bar  Officials  and  "The  Margolins"  for  violations  of  the  Racketeer 
Influenced  and  Corrupt  Organizations  Act  (RICO)  using  violations  of  mail  fraud  and 
wire  fraud  as  the  predicate  acts;  for  violations  of  his  civil  rights;  and,  for  violations 
of  Florida  Statutes  involving  fraudulent  practices,  theft,  and  racketeering. 

The  record  of  this  case  will  show  thatFlorida  Chief  Justice  Rosemary  Barkett,  as 
well  as  the  present  justices  of  the  Florida  Supreme  Court,  in  fact,  knew,  or  reason- 
ably should  have  known:  that  the  arm  of  the  Florida  Supreme  Court,  the  Florida 
bar,  via  certain  named  corrupt  and  out  of  control,  Florida  bar  officials,  in  fact: 

1.  Willfully,  wantonly,  maliciously,  with  criminal  intent,  and  in  furtherance 
of  the  said  Florida  bar  official's  ongoing  schemes  and  artifices  to  defraud 
the  citizens  of  the  state  of  Florida,  and,  the  Judiciary,  these  s£iid  bar  offi- 

A.  Aided,  abetted  and  conspired  to  actively  conceal  from  the  United  States 
District  Court,  the  aforesaid  known,  or  reasonably  known,  falsity  of  the  let- 
ters and  documents,  again  caused  and  submitted  by  Attorney  Peter 
Margolin,  during  the  sham  disciplinary  proceedings,  in  furtherance  of  the 
said  Florida  bar  officials,  et  al.,  ongoing  schemes  to  obstruct,  hinder,  and 
impede  the  due  administration  of  justice. 

B.  Aided,  abetted  and  conspired  to  actively  conceal  from  the  United  States 
District  Court  the  known,  or  reasonably  known,  falsity  of  two  "bad  faith" 
affidavits,  that  in  fact,  were  caused  and  submitted,  once  again,  by  Attorney 
Peter  Margolin,  through  his  counsel,  during  the  official  proceedings,  in  fur- 
therance of  Margolin's  ongoing  schemes  to  obstruct,  impede,  and  hinder  the 
due  administration  of  justice. 

C.  Aided,  abetted  and  conspired  to  actively  conceal  an  apparent  insurance 
fraud  upon  the  malpractice  insurance  carrier,  the  home  insurance  company, 
caused  by  this  same  Attorney,  Peter  Margolin,  and  his  law  firm,  Margolin 
and  Margolin  chartered,  formerly  known  as  gardner  and  margoUn  char- 


The  record  will  show  that  District  Judge  James  C.  Paine  (a  member  of  the  Florida 
Bar),  wrongfully  dismissed  the  action  tor  lack  of  subject  matter  jurisdiction,  and 
then  proceeded  to  grant  the  Florida  Bar's  and  "The  MargoUn's"  motion  to  dismiss, 
with  prejudice:  a)  without  Swartz  ever  having  an  opportunity  to  see  or  speak  to  the 
federal  judge,  b)  without  Swartz  ever  receiving  a  hearing  or  notice  of  hearing,  c) 
without  Swartz  ever  being  permitted  to  obtain  any  discovery  whatsoever,  and  d) 
without  Swartz  ever  being  permitted  to  show,  through  discoveir,  that  subject  matter 
jurisdiction  did  in  fact  exist.  Consequently,  Swartz,  pro-se,  filed  this  appeal. 

The  record  of  this  case  will  also  show  that  Florida  Chief  Justice,  Rosemary 
Barkett,  as  well  as  the  present  justices  of  the  Florida  Supreme  Court,  in  fact,  knew, 
or  reasonably  should  have  known:  The  arm  of  the  Florida  Supreme  Court,  the  Flor- 
ida bar,  via  certain  named  corrupt  and  out  of  control,  Florida  bar  officials: 

A.  Aided,  abetted  and  conspired  to  actively  conceal  from  the  pertinent 
courts,  that  the  said  Florida  bar  officials,  the  "Margolin  defendants,"  and 
their  apparent  powerful  and  influential  counsel,  caused  certain  false  filings 
to  be  made  in  the  United  States  District  Court  and  the  Court  of  Appeals 
for  the  Eleventh  Circuit, 

B.  Aided,  abetted  and  conspired  to  actively  conceal  the  blatant  fact  that  the 
defendant  Florida  bar  officials,  the  "Margolin  defendants"  and  their  overt 
"influential"  counsel,  had  also  engaged  in;  conduct  prejudicial  to  the  due  ad- 


ministration  of  Justice,  illegal  conduct  involving  moral  turpitude,  fraud,  de- 
ceit, dishonesty,  overreaching,  undue  influence,  moral  coercion,  perjury,  etc. 

C.  Aided,  abetted  and  conspired  to  obstruct  justice  and  violate  Swartz's  and 
others  civil  rights. 


A  duly  zealous  investigation  caused  by  this  committee  in  the  above  said  matters, 
should  unquestionably  reveal  that  Florida  Supreme  Court  Justice,  Rosemary 
Barkett,  while  acting  under  oath,  under  color  of  law,  and  as  a  "fiduciary  of  the  pub- 
lic trust" : 

1.  Reasonably  knew  of  the  said  nefarious  conduct  by  the  Florida  bar  offi- 

2.  Reasonably  knew  that  such  reprehensible  misconduct  by  the  said  Florida 
bar  officials  was  not  an  isolated  incident;  that  this  said  and  other  gross  mis- 
conduct has  been  occurring  over  a  considerable  period  of  time,  and  had 
formed,  and  continues  to  form,  a  constant  and  ongoing  pattern,  the  fruition 
of  which  amounts  to  racketeering  activity  and  the  absolute  and  total  aban- 
donment of  the  moral  virtues  expressly  incumbent  upon  these  saiid  Florida 
bar  officials,  et  al. 

3.  Reasonably  knew  that  these  said  Florida  bar  officials  clearly,  willfully, 
wantonly  and  with  criminal  intent,  have  deceived  scores  of  other  complain- 
ants to  the  Florida  bar  by  the  organized  fraudiilent  practices  of  the  known 
and  unknown  Florida  bar  officials  and  members. 

4.  Reasonably  knew  that  these  Florida  bar  officials  have  been  falsely  lulUng 
the  people  into  believing  that  the  Florida  bar  and  the  Florida  courts  will 
exact  from  all  those  who  engage  in  the  due  administration  of  Justice  the 
highest  degree  of  confidence  and  good  faith,  when,  in  fact,  this  expressed 
promise  to  the  people  has  been,  knowingly  and  with  criminal  intent,  mani- 
festly breached. 

That  as  a  direct  and  proximate  cause  of  the  acts,  omissions,  and  the  apparent  and 
just  suspect  failure  of  Florida  Chief  Justice  Rosemary  Barkett,  to  duly  adapt  to  the 
requisite  standards  of  fidelity  and  diligence  of  her  office,  she  has  surreptitiously  dis- 
honored and  Jeopardized  the  rolls  of  each  and  every  pertinent  Bar  in  which  these 
fraudulent  "officers  of  the  court"  have  been  admitted  to  practice,  many  of  whom  are 
admitted  to  practice  as  members  of  the  bar  of  the  highest  and  the  most  honored 
Court  in  this  nation,  the  United  States  Supreme  Court. 

By  so  doing,  Florida  Chief  Justice,  Rosemary  Barkett,  has  unduly  and  despicably, 
betrayed  the  People  and  the  Judicial  Branches  of  Government,  by  inordinately,  with 
criminal  intent,  unleashing  upon  the  unwary  American  people,  "reasonably  known 
dangerous,  counterfeit,  criminal  and  perverted  products  and  terrorists  of  the  judici- 
ary, to  illegally  remain  staged  as  "members  in  good  standing  and  fiduciaries  and 
guardians  of  the  public  trust,"  absent  her  vowed  "good  faith  inspection"  of  the  same, 
consequently,  detrimental  to  the  public  good  and  welfare;  and,  outrageously  repug- 
nant to,  the  preamble,  to  the  Constitution  of  The  United  States  and  the  legal  com- 
munity's supposed  "sense  of  integrity,  decency  and  fair  play." 

Further,  as  a  result  of  the  said  acts  and  omissions  by  Florida  Chief  Justice,  Rose- 
mary Barkett,  to  sabotage  the  American  trial  machinery,  by  her  breach  of  fiduciary 
duty  by  her  obvious,  calculated  overlooking  the  known  false,  traitorous  and  illegal 
acts  of  the  said  Florida  Bar  Officials,  et  al.,  she  and  the  said  others,  have  desecrated 
and  made  a  holocaust,  a  mockery  and  a  sham  of: 

a.  The  attorney  disciplineiry  process; 

b.  An  attorney's  Oath  of  Admission  to  the  Bar  and  Code  of  Professional  Re- 

c.  A  Judge's  Code  of  Conduct; 

d.  A  Judge's  Oath  of  Office;  and, 

e.  The  supposedly  noble  and  honorable  profession  of  law. 

That  the  said  acts  including,  but  certainly  not  limited  to,  nonfeasance,  malfea- 
sance, misfeasance  and  official  misconduct  on  the  part  of  the  said  Justice  Rosemary 
Barkett,  were  knowingly  fashioned  in  bad  faith,  with  malicious  purpose,  and,  in  a 
manner  that  clearly  exhibits  malicious,  willful  and  wanton  abuse  of  her  office  and 
power,  and,  her  utter  ruthless  and  reckless  disregard  of  the  human  rights,  safety 
and  property  of  the  people  she  has  sworn  to  defend. 

By  so  doing,  the  Florida  Chief  Justice,  Rosemary  Barkett,  has  defiled  her  Oath 
of  Office;  has  sorely  breached  her  most  cardinal  responsibility  of  primary  allegiance 
to  her  country;  has  also  contaminated  and  made  a  holocaust,  a  mockery,  and  a  sham 


of  this  country's  only  orderly  and  supposedly  predictable  manner  in  which  the  Amer- 
ican people  are  able  to  peacefully  redress  our  grievances;  and,  by  her  treasonous 
acts,  she  has  provoked  this  most  grave  and  regrettable  confrontation. 

\Vherefore,m  the  due  interests  of  the  principles  of  right  and  justice  and  the  due 
national  security;  and,  in  utter  due  good  conscience: 

A.  This  Honorable  committee,  should  duly,  deny,  Florida  Supreme  Court 
Chief  Justice,  Rosemary  Barkett's,  confirmation  to  the  United  States  Court 
of  Appeals  for  the  eleventh  circuit, 

B.  This  Honorable  committee  should  duly  cause  a  complete  investigation  to 
be  made  into  the  said  and  other  activities  of  the  Florida  Supreme  Court, 

C.  This  Honorable  committee  should  duly  cause  a  complete  investigation 
into  the  said  criminal  and  "un-american  activities"  of  the  Florida  bar  enter- 
prise, it's  officials  and  the  aforesaid  subject  attorneys. 

I  declare  under  the  penalty  of  perjury  that  the  statements  made  in  this  complaint 
are  true  and  correct  to  the  best  of  my  knowledge. 
Lester  Swartz 

Hip-Hop  Activist  &  Media  Assassin, 
GPO  Box,  New  York,  NY,  February  21,  1994. 
Hon.  Carol  Moseley-Braun, 
Committee  on  the  Judiciary, 
U.S.  Senate,  Washington,  DC. 

Dear  Hon.  Moseley-Braun:  Thank  you  for  your  gracious  letter  of  February  14, 
requesting  that  I  submit  a  written  statement  for  the  upcoming  Senate  hearings  on 
"the  effects  of  violent  and  demeaning  music  Ijrics  on  our  nation's  youth,"  taking 
place  on  Wednesday,  Feb.  23. 

As  I  have  said  in  my  previous  letters  to  your  office,  dated  January  7  and  11,  I 
am  interested  in  the  fact  that  the  Senate  Judiciary  Committee's  Juvenile  Justice 
Subcommittee  has  scheduled  such  a  hearing,  and  I  am  honored  by  your  request  for 
my  submission  of  a  written  statement  on  this  topic. 

It  was  originally  my  hope  to  testify  at  the  hearing,  for  at  least  two  reasons: 

1.  My  conviction  that,  unfortunately,  any  hearing  thus  focused  would 
heavily  address  hip-hop  music,  particularly  that  portion  of  hip-hop  com- 
monly called  "gangsta  rap,"  quote-unquote. 

I  think  this  conviction  has  been  borne  out  by  the  selection  of  panelists,  most  of 
whom  seem  connected  to  hip-hop  in  one  fashion  or  another. 

Put  another  way,  there  seems  to  be  no  direct  representation  on  the  panels  from 
the  music  genre  of,  say,  heavy  metal;  another  music  in  which  certain  participants 
have  been  accused  of  composing  "violent  and  demeaning  music  lyrics,"  which  are, 
then,  marketed  and  sold  to  youth. 

2.  My  personal  and  professional  interest  in  the  hip-hop  form,  as  widely 
read  and  recognized  student  of  it. 

It  was,  and  is,  my  feeling  that,  should  such  an  emphasis  on  "gangsta  rap"  develop 
during  this  hearing: 

a.  The  discussion  should  immediately  be  broadened  to  encompass,  at  the 
very  least,  with  appropriate  and  direct  representation,  all  forms  of  commer- 
cial or  commercialized  "speech"  which  demean  and/or  are  violent,  as  such 
pertains  to  youth;  for  example;  some  forms  of  print  and  other  media  adver- 
tising; numerous  television  talk  shows;  or  certainly  many  "shock  jock/hate" 
radio  programs. 

b.  Persons  adequately  informed  in  the  subtleties  and  nuances  of  hip-hop 
culture,  who  possess  an  activist  reputation  within  the  form,  must  be 
present  to  address  relevant  issues. 

When  I  look  at  the  Ust  of  attendees  for  these  hearings,  it  doesn't  appear  that  ei- 
ther of  these  activities  will  take  place.  The  list  seems  selective,  without  even  the 
illusion  of  balance.  For  example,  while  the  panel  apparently  centers  on  hip-hop,  it 
seems  that  few  hip-hop  artists,  deeply  involved  within  the  genre,  will  be  present. 
It  seems  that  "community  activists,  smart  people,  concerned  about  the  issues  that 
face  Black  people^istant  from  the  genre — will  be  there.  However,  "never  the  twain 
shall  meet." 


I  think  this  is  a  real  mistake.  I  think  that  this  will  hurt  the  nature  and  precision 
of  the  debate,  and  that  this  needed  not  occur,  especially  given  the  wealth  of  appro- 
priate talent  available. 

When  I  consider,  for  example,  the  communicative  skills  and  high  reputations  of 
such  individuals  as  David  "Davey  D"  Cook,  a  writer  and  air  personality  from  Oak- 
land CA — the  home  for  much  of  what  is  called  "gangsta  rap — or  the  of  MaryKay 
Penn,  a  scholar,  youth  worker,  and  founder  of  the  Institute  for  African-American 
Folk  Culture,  here  in  New  York — these  individuals,  among  many  others — I  find  my- 
self doubtful,  as  an  activist  for  and  supporter  of  the  hip-hop  form,  that  many  of  the 
most  cogent  issues  will  be  clearly  examined  during  these  hearings. 

I'm  excited  by  expectations  of  testimony  from  many  with  whose  work  I'm  familiar: 
Michael  Eric  Dyson,  from  Brown  University;  Darryl  James,  Rap  Sheet;  Luther 
Campbell,  Luke  Records;  Hillary  Rosen,  RIAA;  James  Bernard,  The  Source  and 
David  Harleston,  Def  Jam  Recordings.  Also,  I'm  sure  that  many  of  the  other  panel- 
ists will  also  have  important  and  interesting  things  to  say. 

However,  why  are  there  no  white,  highly-placed,  major  record  label  executives  tes- 
tifying? Even  more  so,  on  the  opposing  end,  why  are  there  no  participants  on  the 
panel  without  titles — ordinary  people  who  buy  records;  who  are  consumers  or  users 
of  this  music? 

Why  are  there,  as  far  as  I  can  tell,  no,  or  more,  participants  under  the  age  of  21, 
especially  given  that  this  is  hip-hop's  primary  audience,  and  that  the  hearing  is  re- 
portedly being  convened  based  on  a  concern  for  youth?  Why  shouldn't  many  young 
people  interpret  this  absence  as  paternalism? 

And  to  the  core  issue  of  convening  these  panels:  Why  is  a  U.S.  Senate  Judiciary 
committee  not  moving  much  more,  far  more  cautiously  into  the  precious,  constitu- 
tionally-protected area  of  speech,  especially  given  the  diverse  setbacks  we  have 
faced  in  this  area  under  Reagan  and  Bush,  and  that  Black  people  have  faced  since 
that  infamous  day  we  first  set  our  chained  and  shackled  feet  upon  these  shores? 

Why  are  we  talking  about  lyrics  when  Black  people,  in  hip-hop  and  without,  are 
being  deceitfully,  secretly,  and  violently  exploited  in  so  many  other  ways? 

Why  are  we  talking  about  speech,  first,  when  these  actions  are  so  much  more  ef- 
fective and  perverse? 

Even  upon  being  assured  by  a  member  of  your  staff  that  these  hearings  are  a 
"first  step,"  it  is  still  my  feeling  that  first  steps  must  be  especially  sure-footed,  as 
much  as  is  possible,  in  order  to  make  sure  that  future  steps  can  even  follow. 

What  does  reassure  me,  of  course,  is  the  great  sense  I  have  of  your  intelligence, 
yom*  sense  of  justice,  and  what  I  perceive  as  your  unwillingness  to  be  lied  to;  all 
of  these  coupled  with  the  fact  that'  as  the  first  Black  U.S.  Senator  since  Reconstruc- 
tion, or  after  the  Civil  War,  you  possess  a  view  that  has  been  forged  by  the  uninter- 
rupted residency  of  racism;  that  for  you,  racism  is  not  abstract;  not  "a  feeling"  or 
"a  belief,"  as  perhaps  many  of  your  distinguished  colleagues  might  describe  it,  but 
a  devastating  effect  and  ongoing  result;  about  as  active  on  this  planet  as  sunshine. 

I  mention  racism  here,  not  to  strike  some  sort  of  facile  camaraderie  with  you,  but 
because,  simply,  I  feel  the  general  controversy  around  "gangsta  rap,"  quote-unquote- 
unquote-unquote,  is  designed  to  be  distracting;  that  the  real  issue  is  racism,  in  its 
sole  expression  of  white  supremacy,  and  that  "gangsta  rap" — indeed  hip-hop  in  its 
entirety — is,  essentially,  a  reaction  to  white  supremacy;  one  of  many  that  Black  peo- 
ple have  developed  against  racism,  none  of  which  have  yet  been  effective  against 

In  other  words,  alleviate  the  problems  that  Black  people  face,  virtually  all  of 
which  can  be  directly  traced  to  our  cold  introduction  to  "the  Western  Hemisphere," 
"the  New  World,"  etc.;  in  other  words,  our  cold  introduction  to  the  people  dominating 
us  here,  and  in  other  places. 

Do  this — whether  through  step-by-step,  corrective  legislation,  over  decades  and 
centuries;  or  through  reparations  to  Black  people  for  the  holocaust  of  slavery  and 
its  disastrous  aftermath;  or  through  some  other  workable  technique — and  "gangsta 
rap"  will  melt,  evaporate,  and  vanish,  like  spilled  ice  on  a  hot,  Chicago  sidewalk. 

Why?  Because  there  will  simply  be  no  need,  or  use,  for  it. 

Do  not  alleviate  the  problems  that  Black  people  face,  and  "gangsta  rap"  will  sim- 
ply be  replaced  by  something  else,  there  being,  perhaps,  only  two  assurances  in  this 

One,  whatever  replaces  "gangsta  rap"  will  make  "gangsta  rap"  look  absolutely 
quaint  by  comparison. 

Two,  the  coming,  socio-material  conditions  this  new,  futuristic  form  critiques  will 
make  those  as  you  and  I  long  for  "the  good  ole'  days,"  when  the  Black  male  body 
count  in  Chicago,  Washington  DC,  New  York  and  other  places  was  only  "high,"  and 
we  still  had  somewhere  to  put  the  bodies. 

My  written  statement  to  the  Senate  shall  consist,  thusly,  of: 


i)  "Hip-Hop:  The  New  Jazz,"  a  piece  I  did  for  the  Black-owned,  Brooklyn- 
based  weekly,  The  City  Sun,  for  its  Feb.  17,  1988  issue. 

ii)  a  piece  I  did  for  Essence — that  magazine's  very  first  center-of-the-book 
piece  on  hip-hop — published  in  April  1989. 

Both  of  these  articles,  each  over  five  years  old,  have  been  hailed  for  being  far 
ahead  of  the  times  in  their  detailed  discussion  of  hip-hop  as  a  new  form  within  the 
continuum  of  Afrikan  culture. 

iii)  a  piece  I  wrote  about  violence,  misogyny,  and  profanity  in  music 
lyrics,  and  Black  radio  station  WBLS-Nrs  commensurate  banning  of 
records  with  such  lyrics.  This  piece  ran  in  New  York  Newsday's  op-ed  sec- 
tion last  month,  on  Jan.  7.  It  has  been,  and  I  fully  expect  it  will  continue 
to  be,  hailed  for  its  innovation. 

iv)  This  letter,  in  its  entirety. 

With  the  exception  of  this  letter,  I  have  sent  all  of  the  above  materials  to  your 
office  previously.  However,  while  they  do  not  accompany  this  fax,  I  am  posing  five 
dupUcates  to  you,  with  five  copies  of  this  letter,  as  you  have  requested.  Please  for- 
give their  submission  after  the  Feb.  16  date.  There  was  some  brief  conftision  be- 
tween your  office  and  mine,  based  on  the  wording  of  your  previous,  Feb.  10  letter, 
and  this  delayed  my  response. 

I  hope  all  of  this  information  helps  your  attempts  to  clarify  what  has  become, 
overall  and  in  general,  a  (typically)  muddled  discussion  about  Black  people. 

My  thanks  to  the  members  of  yovu-  staff — Pam  Smith,  Chris  Rabb,  Joanna  Slaney, 
Lance  Holbert — including  those  with  whom  I  did  not  have  direct  contact — Jeff 
Gibbs,  Lynn  Moten,  and  perhaps  others — for  their  wonderful  help  and  assistance. 

God  bless  you,  your  family,  and  your  efforts. 

Thank  you  for  your  time  and  your  interest. 

Harry  Allen. 


•  The  jiiung.  browii-skinncd  vktinun  stood  in  tht  rniJdk  nl' ihi-  litmip,  p.itiiii);  mil  j  ..n  the  i;i.hiiuI  witli  hit 
Irct.  at  the  same  time  bc-atin{;  nut  a  rhythin  tm  hit  chest  and  leys  with  her  h.iiids  Peiiple  crnwtled  ilnser.  taught  by 
the  quiet,  distinct,  funky  sound  Suddenly  she  bej;an  id  thyme,  fast  and  furiously  As  |Hiiplc  listened,  swayed  and 
swung  to  the  beat,  she  shot  poetic  insults  at  friends  ne.iihy.  to  their  clui-rin  and  the  itowds  ddi);ht  She  rhymed 
about  her  experiences,  thinjjs  that  both  she  and  her  audience  had  seer,  and  c>.|xrit need  She  kept  that  s.ime  funky 
rhythm  as  the  dancinj;  crowd  went  crazy  wirh  loud  screams  and  shouts 

"  Basement   party   bc-;it-b<)x   in   the   Briini.'   LA.    street-curner  perlormer' 

Neither.  A  description  of    pattin'  juba."  circa  l.S'iO,  from  historian  tiletn 

Southern's  rcvelatoty  work  TAc  M//iir  »f  B/tjfi  Aimmjih. 

Nearly  140  years  later,  over  the  sound  of  a  ciruin  m.uhine  and  one  eetily 

repeating,  mournful,  four-note  hotn  ritf.  2()-year-old  Mike  G  matter-ot-factly 

drops  science  on  the  Jungle  Brothers  s  recording     In  Tunc'     "In  i'hih  thii  rliyim 

will  he  Mun  ihnii  juii  u  jjiiitnylA  BLui  iiuiii  mil  Ih  ihv  iiuiii  lo  (Uiim  pmuUiuylii  ii  kiril 

lu  <«/  .^0  Iry  In  la  ,ii  I  snilii  Inm  I  itt  ti  Ikiuv  Bluit  M./Zy/j///  I'li  mn  In  ufitii  llv  iloiirl 

Hr  III  III  one  million  muni  Ami  I  ilnii'l  ihinklThal  lliii  .miiilr^  I  imi  u'V  lull  iIk  Ml  llhil  ill 

III  fir.  .  . 

You  won't  hear  lyrics  like  that  from  50,000  of  todays  KdSS  artists.  Such  trank  talk 

will  only  be  found  in  hip-hop  miisa.  or  'rap,'  to  use  a  term  that  we  invented  and 

whites  LiKipted  to  rename,  delaine  or  claim  the  music    II  sales.  inHuenc..-  and  visibility  are 

any  indication,  hip-hop  is  now  runnin'  thangs;  it's  the  dominant  Afruan-Aniencan  music    Its 

about  time    Hip-hop  is  yixjthhji.  stmng    It  exhibits 

none  of  the  cteative  listlcssncss  with  which  much 

of  R«:B  IS  currently  burdened    Nor  does  it  have 

the  hands-otf,   glov^^s-on   reverence  with  which 

|az2  often  finds  itself  draped.  Rather  tlian  pte- 

tending  to  bourgeois  standards  ol  style,  t>r 

attempting  musically  to  evoke  a  time 

dead  and  gone,  as  many  jazz  and  P&B 

artists  are  wont  to  do,  rappers  instead 




•    • 


.  "' » 

.  •%.  '  ''  v.* 




^^^B  NCt  •  APRJL 



\\iny  ilii-  r.iv'M,  most  rtalistit  insi^iitN  ,i(  ^■mir  Dtcijys  takt  your  hivnntt  ri-mrt-K.  lui  cm 
up,  mix  cm  jround  and  scr\x'  t-m  to  jtm  on  .1  rttonl  pl.iticr  Mi.Miu\liilf  thtir  crtivMis  move  ,ind  their  Nidics  m  ways  GrandnvithcT  once  saul  \\iniKi  iklinitcK  ^ct  y»nt  priTinant  or 
arrt-MKl.   It  all  comts  together  in  a  whole:  fimky    'I'nuknowhirniNjyin' 

A'.//»  /;/  ihi  Jrnni  room,  roacltti  in  the  had^ljunliti  in  iK-  allrs   u  ilh  tin  h,i\ih.ill  Uili'l  itittl  /«'  .;■«/ 
uifaw  hill  I  omidu't  get ^rl'Came  a  uilh 
4i  ititr  liinl  nft'iwcaeei  tny  tar.  .  ." 

"\n  me.  hip-hops  always  Seen  arountl. 
says  Melvtn  i  dover.  aka  Mclle-Mel,  lead  vo- 
tJJist  for  Cirandmastcr  Flash  &:  the  Turious 

\'i\c.  whi.  ^ave  i's  "The  Message,    jImivc.  and  arc  no  dtaiht  the 

iT.oM  im|ioftan(  irew  m  the  niusi<  s  short  history.  "Irs  the  s.ime 

sl>:(  fh.K  Ulatk  |H-ople  uas  (.liantin*  on  the  chain  gang,  .i>u!  chat 

tiiey  \\a%  saym    when  tliev  w;«s  slaves    'Hi-de-ho!'  —  all  that  shit 

IS  rap    l*igintai   Markham  ami  'Meali  <^omcs  l)e  Judge'       That's 

tap'  Kap  .il\\a\\  in  en  oin  Hurt     li  |ust  waitm'  (or  smnelxKly 

t"  Jaiiti  i( 

I't^MKa;  Markiiam    Mnivammaii  Ah    <jib  Calkm^y.  Isaai  Haws 

Moms  Ntahlev    Millie  Jai.  kvHi   Joe  "lix.  Malcolm  X.  As  Mel  says, 

■   I  ha{  V  alwavv  Inen  i/i/r  essente-     |ust  to  talk,  you  know  what 

f  in  sax  HI  ' 

'  \'iu  t:  lull  1'//  /»(./r  /»  H'!  ,1  It  \tli  nj  vupfun   tu  ihe  iKatlAml  tm  .  lU  yin'iit .  anJ  my  /iiruJilAn  j^o/ina  tt  )  In  innu  \»nr  ficl 
WIkm  main.  |iople  rhtnk  ol  du  beginnings  of  hip-lK»j\  they  head  back  to  the  Sugarhdl  Gangs     Rapper  n  IXIiglu." 

a   l^-mimtte  jam  k|uoted  alvive  whose  "Ho-tcl,  mo-tel.   Holulay  bin     relrain  ilrtAv  dancers  wdd  bat  k   in  SeptemlKT 

V)'*^).    That  ivasfi  t  the  hrst     rap'  record,  howwcr  The  honor  giKs  to  l-jtback  Dand  s  '  kmg  Tim  III.     whuh  was 

releasivl  earlier  iliat  same  year  Says  Pebbles  Riley,  aka  Pebblee-P<H>.  («ie  of  hip-liops  hrst  female  vtKaliscs.     I  started 

III    ~K.  a'ul  I  was  iletinuel\  hearing  people  rapping  at  bl(Kk  parties  in  '76.  '7"'    "  Ami.  act-oniing  to  Ralph  Mlandshaw. 

aka  V.iii  Silk,  \\W\  was  oiu   ot  tin   music's  earliest,  most  ardent  party  promoters,  \*ou  toukl  hear  mobile  tlee|ays.  die 

rhuhnui    lounders  ol   hip-hop.   in  New  Yirk  City  parks  as  early  as    \'^)~'\.    Hnim    Trviiig  to  pin  ,.  ..vnv.  ■■  .-^  mm  •■«  •! 


By  Harry  Allen 


H     I     P 





down  ( lart  time  lor  hip-hop  ii,  u  RUN- 
D  M.C.  would  jay,  trickji 

Andrei  L.  Strobert,  t  Brooklyn-based 
ichoUt,  musician  and  artist ,  says  that  to 
get  to  the  real  roots  of  hip-hop,  you  have 
to  go  b«ck  even  farther  than  "King  Tim 
111,"  mobile  deejays,  Pigmeat  Maikham. 
or  slavery — say.  to  the  Yoruba  people  of 
Nigeria,  or  the  Nago  of  Dahomey  (now 
Benin).  "TV  scratch  that  you  hear  in  hip- 
bop  is  similar  to  the  African  uktri"  says ' 

^tobett.  'A  Ititri  is  a  big  gourd  with 
beads  around  it.  If  you  think  about 

^•ciatcfaiitg,  you  see  how  it  oormeax,  'Cause, 

from  Douglas  "Jocko"  Henderson,  the  Last 
Poets  attd  Parliaotcnt/FutJcadelic.  Even- 
tually youll  wind  up  in  a  place  where 
three  Black  guys  called  RUN-D.M.C 
sell  more  than  3  million  copies  of  Raiting 
HU...tni  four  white  guys  called  the 
'  Beastie  Boys,  after  being  coached  by  those 
three  Black  guys,  sdl  (oanwuiDON  mcs  IM]  ' 


■  Below  are  the  hypest  of  the  hype,  records 
to  start  listening  to  the  music  with  or  to  >^ 
round  out  a  collection.  The  ones  marked  | 





80  E! 


U  Ttta  a  Usttm  if  HiBmm  u  HiU  Ui  &«i. 

Public  Enetny 

/■  F*lt  Cttr.  ScRsnook  CToounr  Bajr) 
FMmi  At  L-Jir,  Elk  B.  &  Rikim  (Uni): 
bectcf  ;«,  cfaeif  <kba(,  Psid  is  Fmll 
Sirialj  BmimBi.  EFMO  (Skcptag  Bag) 
.  Htm  YsLUtMt  Nav,  Kaol  Moe  Dec  Qiie) 
A  Ml  Citi  «  Dm^  P^.  Sdt-o-Pcpa; 
btaa  ytt.  thai  6ibut.  Hi,  Cml&Vidmi 
HtitkiD.J..  rmiiiZttttr.  D.J.  J«ny Jeff* 

Che  Fcoh  Prince  (J"*) 
Slni^  •«  litjarn^,  Junf  le  Bnxfaen 

•n>  CiM>  AJtmun  tfSUdk  Rkk  (Def  J«nO 
'MmtStmtin'.  2  Lhc  Crew 

(Luke  Skrrwilker) 
•Pmv,  Icc-T  (Sue) 
'Esif-Da-U.  Enr-E  (Priority) 
-Shut  the  Eff  Up!  (Hoe)."  MC  Lyte 

(Fi»t  Priority) 
"Can't  C}et  Enough/All  Rappea  Gin  Up," 

Black  by  Detnand  CTomnir  Boy) 
"Gieatetl  Man  Alhw."  Thf«  Timet  Dope 

ain't  nothin'  but  . 

ttK,itie%atKhasbksbk-tbkibk-tbk.The   ;  with  a  star  contain  some  off-color  material. 
'0dat¥>aoi  a  basically  the  same  thing.  ?■  With  that,  consider  youiself  warned,  indjrl 
Lllappers  .<come  to  my  ttudio  to  record  '^- get  busy.  :>,f% 

^lyAms that  they  waijt  to  use  to  their  .if  J  >;.•.;.■.;  -       •       i  -sf 

?ihymes;TA  kx  of  the  rhythms  that  they  W^ 
%ase  are  Ibo  rhythms,  from  the  Ibo  tribe  ,i; 

*•  Rr  all  African  musk:,  inichiding  African-  : 
VAmericao  music,  rhythm  is  the  key,  the 

point  of  entry.  The  only  way  you  couU 

get  us  to  pay  attentkm  to  and  kwe  some- 
thing as  fundamentally  antimusical  as  a 

turntable  scratch  was  to  make  it  fimky, 

•ttd  in  this  is  hip-hop's  genius.  I  believe 

that  this  concept  of  "funky"  is  die  dividing 

liije  beti«en  people  of  Afrkan  descetu, 

people  of  non-African  clcscent,  and  our 

respective  art  traditions.  That  is  to  say, 

Picasso  copied  ^ffai  African  art,  but  he 

iCouUn't  tnake  his  painting  "Gtiitar"  »»- 
;>rf«F»  near  as  funky  as  a  Dogon  mask.  The 
'■'difierence  between  the  late  Jimi  Hendrix 

and  an  acre  of  white  rock  guitarists  was 

fimk.  Ehns  was  kjud,  but  he  was  never 

fimky.  Little  Richard's  "Rip  It  Up"  still 

does.  Knowfaumsayin? 

"Cocir  tbe'D'  is  jtr  'Jarngmus'lYom  can 

amc  tnd  pi  umt  tf  tbisll  Uad)  anJ  ipeak  u 

tubta  it's  ^(Jtt  it's  mjoUTbt  ^a  cf  Choice; 

the  pUa  shakes  ttiith  basslGt  <me  Jor  the  trttU 

The  rhythm  is  the  trbd!" 

lb  get  from  the  Ybruba  Nation  to  Public 

Enemy's  "Louder  Than  a  Bomb,"  quoted 

above,  you  have  to  jet  through  400  not- 
so-hot  years  in  America.  Stop  just  king 
enough  to  hear  early  forms  of  rapping 

T  R 

For  all  its  immense  popularity,  rap  music 
is  still  very  much  a  man's  v»orld.  Women 
are  buying  the  records,  but  by  and  large 
they  aren't  on  them  nor  are  they  pro- 
ducing them — though  as  the  music  pro- 
gresses, that's  beginning  to  change. 
Women  rap  artists  such  as  Princesa 
(Criminal/WTG),  Salt-n-Pepa  (Next  Pla- 
teau) and  The  Real  Roxanne  (Seic  ;)  are 
excited  about  getting  on  the  mike  and 
on  vinyl;  for  the  moment,  issues  of  creative 
and  financial  autonomy  are;  a  back- 
seat. Don't  expect  these  wo-nen  to  ad- 
dress sexism  directly.  Much  as  we  might 
like  them  to.  that's  not  happening — yet. 
As  a  popular  art  form  that,  like  stand- 
up  comedy,  draws  inspiration  from  "out- 
law" oral  traditions  such  as  pimp  toasts, 
prison  doggerel  and  urban  childhood's 
"dirty  dozens."  rap  is  accepted  by  its 
practitioners — male  and  female — as  the 
most  brutally  honest  form  of  self- 
expression  possible. 

"Rap  is  cultural,"  says  Princesa.  whose 
first  records  came  out  on  Arthur  Baker's 
Criminal/WGT  label  only  this  winter, 
despite  the  fact  that  she  has  been  writing 
and  producing  her  own  raps  for  three 
years.  "I  grew  up  with  it,  and  it's  here 
to  stay.  But  when  I  started  making  and 
shopping  my  own  upes  as  a  teen,  because 
I  thought  the  things  other  people  wanted 
to  produce  on  me  were  too  commercial, 
the  male  label  owners  were  very  unre- 
ceptive.  I  spoke  to  people  at  Uptown 
Enterprises,  at  Next  Plateau,  Sleeping 
Bag,  Reality... I  made  the  rounds.  Only 
when  I  led  them  to  believe  that  a  man 
had  written  or  produced  my  stuff  did 
they  show  interest." 

Along  the  same  lines,  when  Roxanne 
Shante  defended  the  skeezer's  (groupie's) 
low-slung  lifestyle  on  Rick  James's 
"Loosey's  Rap,"  she  was  just  doing  a  job. 
Female  rappers  are  often  invited  to  par- 
ticipate in  a  statement  devised  by  a  male 
artist  and  expected  to  contribute 
"something  appropriate."  As  profes- 
sionals, these  girls  deliver  what  is  asked, 
get  paid  and  get  credit — relatively  ob- 
livious to  how  that  participation  might 
be  perceived  by  others. 

"There  are  a  lot  of  rhymes  we  write 
on  our  album,  but  we  don't  go  for  the 
credit,"  admits  Cheryl  James  (Salt).  o| 
platinum  rap  duo(co~TiNLiDi)xpAui  inj 



ftom  hira  about  how  stupid  TV  really  is; 
instead  he  says  of  the  show,  "1  cannot 
ipeak  for  all  Black  people,  so  Im  availing 
mysdf  of  evety  resource  at  my  disposal  so 
we  have  a  chaoce  to  look  ar  the  worU 
through  brown  eja  for  at  least  a  few 
minutes  every  week  on  prime-time 

He's  aUo  usiiig  his  newfound  ckxit  to 
the  point  cf  insisting  that  people  of  color 
be  part  of  the  show's  creative  aixl  devel- 
opment sta£  Among  the  resources  he's 
ising  are  the  show's  Biack  writer-producer 
team,  L.  Travis  Clark  and  Steve  DuiKan, 
who  created  Tour  if  Duty  foe  CBS,  and 
Black  diiectcrs  Scan  Laihan  and  Bill  I>jke, 
who  each  directed  episodes  this  season. 
Says  Clark,  "V^  think  this  is  a  break- 
through series.  I  bdieve  that  for  the  first 
time  in  the  history  of  television  we  have  a 
snong  Black  male  lead  who  will  interact 
with  other  Black  people.  With  other  shows 
with  a  Black  lead,  ^w'U  have  maybe  one 
or  two  episodes  out  of  22  with  a  Black 
story  tine.  Ybu  never  see  him  with  any 
cultvual  nuances;  he  becomes  a  white  person 
in  a  Black  skin.  That  won't  happen  here. 
I  think  this  show  will  succeed,  but  even 
if' it  doesn't,  they  shoukl  try  others.  You 
newr  hear  oerwxk  executives  saying  they're 
not  going  to  do  any  mere  white  shows, 
even  though  the  majority  of  those  shows 
are  canceled  every  year.  We  need  the  same 

Neither  dark  nor  Duncan  knew  Brooks 
before  A  Man  Called  Hawk  began,  but 
Clark  now  says  of  his  series  star,  "My  only 
heroes  were  the  guys  I  fought  with  in 
Southeast  Asia,  but  now  I've  gx>t  a  new 
hero.  This  man  [Brooks]  is  extraordinary. 
He's  a  learned  individual,  he  cares  about 
Black  people,  and  be  pushes  us  to  the 
limit.  I'm  so  impressed  with  him.  We 
just  clicked  from  the  moment  we  met." 

Brooks's  intelligence  and  eagerness  haw 
also  taken  Hawk  bi  \xyon^  what  his  creator 
imagined  for  him.  Robert  Parker,  author 
of  the  enormously  papular  series  of  mystery 
oovds  on  which  Spoon:  For  Htrt  was  based, 
was  quoted  in  The  Boston  Clobt  Magaziru 
as  saying  that  Hawk  is  "the  dark  side  of 
Spenser"  He  adds,  "Hawk's  more  practical 
than  Spenser.  Like  any  minority  figure, 
he  has  learned  the  necessity  of  practicality. 
I  only  know  a  little  bit  about  Hawk.  That 
sounds  like  coy-writer  bullshit,  but  it's 
true.  1  can  otily  see  him  through  Spenser's 
eyes."  Brooks  took  some  elements  from 
the  character  as  first  written  (the  bald 
head,  the  few  words,  the  big  gun),  but 
went  much  further  with  it,  giving  him 
new  richness  and  education  both   from 

books  ai>d  from  the  street.  "The  darker 
side,  in  my  case,  is  the  brighter  fide," 
fays  Brooks.  "1  made  myself  up  in  terms 
of  the  chaiactei,  or  at  least  the  culture 
made  him  up.  Robert  Parker,  bless  his 
heart,  CDuU  fiever  reach  or  find  the  things 
I  know  by  virtue  of  my  presetKe  on  the 
planet."  And,  he  adds,  the  character  will 
go  further  still  in  the  new  series:  "The 
enigma  atxl  the  mystery  will  remain.  But 
because  this  character  lives  between  fi»ct 
and  fictkn,  we  will  discjss  the  past,  unravel 
pieces,  just  so  «c  can  engage  the  workl." 
OM  as  it  is  outside,  and  though  it's 
canforrabie  in  the  trailo;  Brooks  is  oeecU 
on  the  set  again.  But  to  one  final  question: 
What's  he  going  to  do  once  Hawk  has 
had  his  tun?  he  replies,  "Hawk  was  nuuiing 
before  this  and  will  run  after.  He  pms  in 
the  culture;  he  is  alive  like  tlut.  After 
Hawk,  I'll  go  where  I  need  to  go."      ♦ 

Martha  SmtbgaU  is  arts  tmd  eMtertaJmrnatt 

editor  cf^  Essence. 

Addttimal  r^onitig  by  C.  Ctrald  Frastr. 


(Joseph  House,  St.  Croix) 

I  shall  miss  this  house 

with  its  open  windows 

where  scabreezes  rush  in 

to  mount  cathedral  ceilings 

and  gently  waft  down 

like  so  many  canebnkes  rustling. 

Where  the  morning  song 

of  an  islaixl  bird  teaches 

berween  the  cracks  of  dusk 

to  scold  me  awake. 

I  shall  miss  this  house 

of  sweet  hibiscus  and  salt  air 

whose  demure  fiag  ranees 

lace  like  sea  6>ns  into  the  quiet  winds 

tempting  roc  to  taste 

again  and  again. 

— IRMA  McClaurin 

Ccfiynght  O  I9S8  by  Imw  McO«irio  K^pnntcd  fnm  dv 
book  PimrCi  Smt,  p^bhed  bjr  Land  Press.  DnnMt.  Mjch. 


•  comj/vjtO  from  poft  BO 

4  million  copies  of  LicemeJ  to  III.  'Vbu've 
entered ...  the  twilight  zone,  the  point 
where  this  very  African  art  "is  being  ac- 
cepted by  middle  America, '  in  the  words 
of  Hurby  Azoi;  producer  of  miilion-seiling 
crew  Salt-n-Pepa.  "That's  one  of  the  big- 
gest developments.  The  white  people  are 
gettin'  into  it  now.  Which  is  funny.  The 
music  business  is  always  interested  in  the 
white  people." 

And  vice  versa.  White  music  critics 
and  cultural  historians  are  talking  about 

hip-hop  and  find  themselves  tossing  kmg, 
funny  words  into  the  air  to  describe  it. 
Words  like  defomlriiaioii,  approprialioa^ 
ioHography  and  mmeaitalrzatioa.  But  those 
wmls  have  little  to  do  with  the  way  Afiican- 
American  people  live  or  make  music,  and 
hip-hop  is  no  more  or  less  than  Black  life 
on  black  vinyl.  Whatever  one  finds  in  the 
community,  they'll  find  in  the  records. 
This  has  a  kx  ro  do  with  why  it's  so 
attractive  to  some  people  and  repulsive  to 

Foe  African-Americans,  especially  young 
people,  the  music  is  a  minoc  These  aren't 
cheap  records,"  says  Nat  Robinson,  pres- 
ident 01  MC  Lyie's  label,  Fiist  Prnriry 
Music.  "These  are  natural  records."  Hip- 
bop  calks  like  us;  it's  tooced  in  African- 
American  wordplay,  like  "snapping"  or 
"the  dozens."  Ic  ooovcs  like  us.  It  homes 
in  like  ladar  on  our  "musiculnuar  values. 
Rhythm.  Call  attd  response.  Repetitioa. 
Reioterpretation  of  original  kieas  via  im- 
provisarioo.  The  iroice  as  instrument,  and 
as  rhythmic  atxl  tonal  kieal.  And  other 

"Rappen  tail  a  st^  tadt  er  you  will  sem 
rcgnt  that  yam  ever  had  to  amfromt  me  and 
you  can  ha  that  I  came  correct  perfca  in  full 
i^tDixmma  diaea  eject  as  I  wrecklSbopI 
Stand  in  comwtand  with  the  doMlCarauan  or 
iand/Vt  go  man  for  man. . 

Hip  hop  speaks  to  a  view  of  life  that 
is  expressly  communal  in  nattue.  In  Africa, 
there  are  cultures  with  musical  categories 
solely  for  the  praise  ef  friends,  (oc  instance. 
When  Big  E>addy  KztK  etxls  the  elastic 
"Set  It  Oft"  quoted  above,  by  naming 
more  than  30  friends  one  at  a  time,  when 
Kool  Moe  Dee  turns  the  names  of  his 
neighborbotxi  crew  into  exultant,  defiant 
poetry  on  "Wikl  WiU  Wfest,"  when  Public 
Enemy  thanks  240-plus  people  and  groups 
oo  the  crew's  liner  ntxes,  that's  African. 
That's  "posse,"  "brotherhood,"  "com- 
munity" being  expressed  on  the  terms  of 
African-American  young  people.  'I  say 
the  names  of  my  posse  to  Vxk  out  for 
'em,  to  acknowledge  that  they  do  exist," 
admits  19-year-old  Dana  Ov«ns,  aka 
Latifih,  who  thanks  the  R.E.  (Ram  En- 
terprise) Posse  on  her  fluid,  funky  single, 
"Wrath  of  My  Madness/Princess  of  the 
Posse,"  quoted  bekjw.  "Had  it  not  been 
lor  them,  I  probably  wouldn't  have  even 
started  in  this.  Yoa  Vnov  wttat  I'm  saying?" 

"l-ray/The  lesson  cf  todaylYou  baxe  to  listen 
to  each  and  every  single  word  I  have  to  say 
hecausdThe  Ruler  Lord  Ramsey  is  on  my  sidd 
And  I'm  the  Princess  of  the  Posse  lo,  yo. ..  take 
it  light..." 

So.  yo.  Why  is  hip-hop  so  hype?  What 
are  those  millions  of  rappers  and  record 
buyers  really  getting  out  of  it?  Fab  5 


114  ESSfNCE  •  APRJL  1989 



Freddy,  cohost  of  MTV'i  (Ooh!  now  it's 
t,:r>)  hip-hop  video  show  Ya.'  MT\'  Rapi! . 
p^jts  it  like  this:  "There's  sum'r.  in  hip- 
hip  that  milces  it  good,  that  you  can'' 
rvrn  rtally  morti,  because  a  kx  o'  hip-hoji 
IS  about  attitude,  feelitig  and  $r)le,  as 
opposed  to  musical  viituosiry  as  we  know 
it,  deal;r>g  with  Western  forms  of  music. 
Like  L.L.  (UxA  J  said,  when  you  bear  i 
good  hip-hop  record,  you  make  that/i.f. 
youknowhurasayin'?  You  hear  a  regular 
recoexl,  you  just  go,  Teah,  that's  pretry 
gcKxJ.'  But  when  you  hear  a  good  hip-hop 
reotrd,  you  inakc  that  tee  like,  "ifivital-''  " 

"Flowim'  in  fdt  uith  the  mew  ityldBumli 
art  cUantd  then  lacuieJ  jor  ialutelChanien 
with  the  choice  stafuJing  iUaJj  like  my  mot/tty- 
piati Paragraph  preacher  ii  mow  inXndttcedl 
Drums  art  heard  sounMng  off  im  each  and 
ever  J  persmlMxal  cmfexti  ii  thrvum  at  top 
itage/Raia  and  violas  arem'l  proper /or  tbmimg 
for  ihowimg  in  apprtdalion  (uiby?)IThis  ii 

Lisren  to  "Plug  Tunin'  ,"  above,  by  the 
trio  De  La  Soul,  or  to  almost  any  cut  fiom 
their  3  Feet  High  and  Ruing  You'll  make 
that  face  alt  album  kxig  But  some  think 
that  when  people  hear  a  good  hip- hop 
record,  they  do  other  things.  Like  stick 
chemicals  up  their  noses,  snatch  gold 
chains,  tajnpage  arxl  even  kill,  if  you're 
talking  about  the  murder  of  Julio  Furntes 
at  Long  Island's  Nassau  Coliseum  on  Sep- 
tember 10,  1988  Ask  rbe  usually  serene 
Laiifah  what  the  most  common  miscon- 
ception about  hip-hop  is,  arvd  you  touch 
a  nerve.  "Definitely  that  it's  vitilent,  tlur 
it  s  a  burnrh  t>f  hcxxJlums  and  nondescripts 
making  records  about  bullshit.  That  we 
can't  put  (Xit  a  goddamn  positive  message. 
If  they  took  a  second  to  listen  to  the 
words,  then  they  wtxild  kiK>w  that  wasn't 
the  case." 

Word  The  fact  is  that  drugs  arxJ  crinxr 
live  in  our  rtjmmunities.  Their  habiration 
iliere  predates  the  music  called  hip-hop. 
These  ills  have  less  to  do  with  Schoolly  D 
calling  his  album  Smoke  Some  Kill  than 
tlKy  do  with  ""iie  gCMrmment  drug-f>gging 
with  Manuel  Noriega,  They  have  less  to 
do  with  becpeT-canyit^g  brothers  than  they 
ck")  with  the  U.S.  banks  and  other  mul- 
cinaticxials  fcx  which  wc  work.  These  cor- 
porations know  that  dtug  mtxiey  is  the 
only  thing  that'll  keep  a  flow  of  American 
dollars  going  into  the  debt-ridden  Latin 
American  countries  they  lend  to. 

To  say  that  hip-hop  is  surrounded  by 
vK>icrKe  and  drug  use  sourxls  like  a  caprivr 
African  blaming  work  songs  and  field  hol- 
lers for  the  perpetuation  of  slavery,  don't 
)i.iu    think^    Hip-bop   is   descnptiNT   and 

APKll   1961  ♦  CSfrJCC     117 

olicn  attempts  to  be  prescriptive.  Alrican- 
Ameiican  people  are,  again,  using  music 
lo  make  sense  of  and  mediation  ftx  our 

Ho»rver,  there  is  certainly  one  real 
problrm.  Hip  hop  has  taken  a  rap  f(M 
being  sexist.  Ir  is.  When  Ice-T  rekases  a 
record  calked  'Girls,  La's  On  Butt  Naked 
and  Fuck"  ("Girls,  L.G.B.N.A  F"  on 
the  album  ctTvcr),  when  2  Live  Crew  on  a 
cut  called  "S  &  M"  calls  to  women  to 
bring  rheit  "d— k-$ucking  frieivls, "  when 
Ultramagnetic  M.C.  s  Kool  Keith  on  "Gi^T: 
the  Drununer  Some"  talks  about  smacking 
up  hts  bitch  in  the  manner  of  a  pimp, 
sisters  utvierstandably  scream.  Hip-hop 
IS  senist.  It  is  also  frank. 

As  I  txjce  tt>ld  «  lister,  hip-hop  lyrics 
are,  among  other  things,  what  a  kx  of 
Black  men  say  about  Black  women  when 
Black  women  aren't  aroutvl.  In  this  sense, 
the  music  is  no  mcxe  or  less  sexist  than 
your  fathers,  brtxhers,  husbands,  friends 
arxl  ItTvcrs,  ar>d,  in  iiiany  trases,  nyxe  up- 
front. As  an  ut»cnir»gly  precise  refletrwo 
oC&e  community,  hip-hop's  sexist  thinking 
will  change  when  the  communiry  changes. 
Because  women  are  rhe  txtes  best  able  to 
define  sexism,  they  will  have  to  challenge 
the  music — tell  it  how  to  change  and 
make  it  change — if  change  is  to  come 
Only  then  will  record  companies  cease  the 

lek-asc  ol  luts  llui  call  Im  biKli-siiLuKiiLj; 

"liini  coiiU  I  keep  my  eompoiurr/Vt'/xn  all 
soni  of  thiMf^hts  fjuj^ht  fjr  expcturr/' 

Hip  ho|>  IS  here  to  stay  As  Eiic  Ii  tc 
Rakim  note  in  their  "Musical  Massacre  " 
above,  the  music  is  bursting  with  idc-as 
It  IS,  says  Kay  Gee  The  All  from  liie 
seniirjl  crew  Cold  Crush  Brothers,  "up- 
to-dare  music.""  and  it  speaks  to  a  clunge 
in  the  •I'ay  we  scxialize  arvj  get  our  music 
When  Billboard,  the  bible  of  the  music 
industry,  began  its  charts  in  the  19'iOs, 
they  tallied  sales  of  sheer  music  Today 
they  tally  rccords-by-ethniciry.  compact 
discs  and  videos.  That  reflects  a  huge 
change  in  the  way  we  get  music  and  think 
about  It  Sodocasseues.  almost  twnexBtent 
20  years  ago  So  does  a  Walkman,  non- 
existent  ten  years  ago  Music  we  choose 
goes  where  we  do  Says  master  pcrrusskxiist 
and  composer  Max  Roach  in  New  York 
hkwuJay.  music  used  to  go  where  wr  did 
in  another  way.  "When  I  was  growing  up 
in  Bedford-Stuyvesant  [Brooklyn],  there 
was  always  an  instrument  a  student  coukl 
take  home  from  school;  if  astudenr  wanred 
ro  study  rheroric,  be  coukd.  Thats  all 
been  wiped  txit;  out  urban  centers  are  in 
shambles  "" 

How  are  you  going  ro  get  kids  to  read 
music  if  they  cant  read?  ""These  kids  were 

(coNnNutDOW  rMUl  I I9J 

Loul«l«n«CmiceotTourlam/P  O  Boi  94291  /  Dept  424    DslooBouge  LA  70604-929 



9  antinuod  fivn  pogt  1 17 

never  exposed  to  poets  ot  playwrights  in 
school,"  cxxitinues  Roach.  "They  had  ill 
this  ulent,  ti>d  they  had  no  instruments. 
So  they  started  rap  music.  They  rhymed 
on  that  own.  They  made  thetr  own  sounds 
and  their  own  movements." 

I  oxildn't  have  said  it  any  bettet  Why 
hasn't  this  hip-hop  "hd"  died  out.'  The 
same  teason  »e  haven't.  If  nothing  else, 
hip-hop  speaks  most  direaly  to  Aftican- 
American  pride  aixi  sense  of  self,  dilutes 
of  the  American  mess,  our  history,  the 
things  VK  lade  and,  ultimately,  hope  Hope 
that  people  without  the  bene&  of  a  omunon 
musical  language,  articulated  by  bais,  sta£ 
and  bass  clefs,  will  come  up  with  one  oo 
their  own,  made  from  the  stuff  of  their 
lives.  Hope  that,  rot  at  least  a  moment, 
an  average  Joe-Ski  from  around  the  way 
will  have  his  place  in  the  spotlight.  Hope 
that  *r  survive  and  prosper  as  a  people 
into  the  rswnty-first  century  and  beyond. 
We  will.  It  prtxnises  to  be  a  iertxrraus, 
funky  future.       ♦ 

Harry  Allen,  hi/f-bop  aahnst  and  ntdia  ai- 
uuiin.  is  tbt  first  wriur  m  this  mute  to  gmii 
up  with  it. 

Gtiii  liiiMiii  FlMh  iMd  Ak  FiMWMB  Rw.  ~nK  hiemaf.'  iqauMui 
bf  pnrnaaaB  «tf  SMC*rfiiil  Inmb.  p>odk^*d  bf  Sjliw  KflbMMM. 
O^iTTigtM  C  n92  SugartuU  Ga^.  't^^pa*  DdiflM.'  itpnaard 
bf  penniMjan  of  SvjMtaU  Iccm^.  pio^arri  b;  SjtiM  liJuww. 
Ov<rnf  bi  O  19T9  Pub4K  E«nif:  1.owd(i  riaa  ■  BobA.-  itpiiMtJ 
b)r  p(TroiM«)n  ti  Of  Anmcaa  Sca,^.  lac  .  C  K,drahouL  E  Sadki 
H  SbadUcc.  «T«m  Capp\f\»  O  rW8  "Vorii  id  arf  Uaivrmi 
PuMTW  «/  dK  Bmm.-  wnnra  bf  tlwM  OatvJUaA  >*nn  Oto^ 
ASCAP)  Ofvnchi  O  1988  T-Bor  »4jk  hdUM^.  Uc  CASCAPV 
lUfVuKrd  by  pcrmnHO,  AH  n^bn  himwJ  Iimi  iimiii  — I  H4iTlnb« 
wnwtd  ~r\v%  TuMD  ~  vT«(<n  by  Kdvwi  Mnnt/Diwl  ^lOxaL 
Ofirt,Cbt  O  I9fl8  T<;«l  Muuc  fwblaluai.  Ik  (AMI)  lt<pn«ad 
by  pmaiw  All  n^hn  Kiu*tl  laMr«M«Md  Coppiffat  Secwed. 
e»  B*  lUkiM  M,M.  Ik    (BUI)   Ovp^b,  O  I9«8 


9  tiwWMim  if  fiviy  pogt  80 

Salt-n-Pepa.  "And  1  guess  we  should, 
because  people  are  on  this  kick  about 
why  we  don't  write.  It  doesn't  bother  us, 
but  it  bothers  us  that  it  bothers  other 
people.  Most  singers  don't  wtite  all  their 
own  lyrics,  either,  and  nobody  cares  about 
that.  I  guess  because  Hurby  Azor  is  our 
producer,  manager  and  one  of  our  song- 
writers, it  gives  the  impression  that  he 
has  total  control.  But  we  all  got  into  this 
business  together,  it's  like  a  family.  And 
if  he  ever  came  up  with  a  song  or  a  video 
cotKept  we  didn't  want  to  do,  we  wouldn't 
do  it." 

Most  contemporary  tap  women  (comitig 
along  in  a  time  when  rap  is  so  much 
more  ptofltable  than  it  was  for  theu  sistet 
pioneers  of  five  ot  six  years  back)  are 
philosophical  about  the  intemecine  name- 
calling  and  cross-gender    "dissing  "  that 

sometimes  make  it  into  the  gtxxtvcs.  None 
of  them  seem  to  think  that  "explicit"  ot 
sexist  lytics  are  harmful  in  and  of  them- 
selves, and  all  of  them  are  aware  that 
there  is  a  definite  cash-money  fandom 
out  there  fot  dirty  talk.  The  Puerto  Rican 
rapper.  The  Real  Roxanne,  co-wtote  her 
single  "Respect"  around  that  very  di- 
lemma. The  Real  Roxanne  has  felt  pressure 
toward  "propriety  "  both  from  within  and 
as  the  young  mother  of  an  articulate  first- 
gtader:  "Girls  disrespecting  each  other 
on  stage  is  just  not  me;  not  the  image  I 
want  to  ptomote.  But  at  the  beginning, 
with  all  the  Roxanne  answer  records  attd 
all  these  girls  coming  (xiscage  to  challenge 
me  at>d  each  other,  my  prtxduction  com- 
pany back  then  who'd  had  the  otiginal 
'Roxuuie'  concept  had  to  show  them  what 
time  it  was!"  Roxanne  laughs. 

"Now,  with  my  first  album  out,  I  hear 
that  [fellow  rapper]  MC  Lyte  has  started 
in  on  me.  I  hear  that  she  has  a  girl  dressed 
like  me  in  one  of  her  videos  and  has 
something  to  say.  Oh  boy, "  she  gtins 
wtyly,  "sounds  like  fiin." 

Because  rap  ptides  itself  on  staying 
thematically  true  to  the  African-American 
experience  in  America  today,  it  srands  to 
reason  that  every  issue — good  or  bad — 
that  manifests  itself  in  our  communiries 
will  eventually  be  exposed  in  a  rap  forum. 
In  the  case  of  normally  touchy  subjects 
such  as  sex,  sexism,  racism,  crime,  VD, 
homophobia  and  light-skin  privilege,  a 
rap  dialogue  may  be  the  only  discussion 
cettain  youngsters  evet  have  on  these 
subjects  If  so,  pethaps  we  ought  to  take 
advantage  of  rap's  daring  to  start  the 
discussion,  so  that  we,  as  knowledgeable 
adults,  can  finish  it.  — CAROL  COOPER 

•  WHAT  I'M  NOTt 

Never  afraid! 
Never  silent! 

Never,  oh  never  weaty! 

But  always  bold 

with  continuing  shouts  of  liberation 

Always,  oh  Always  full  of  power! 

Never  "negro  "! 
Never  inferior! 

Never,  oh  r>ever  ashamed! 

But  Always,  oh  Always  proud 
kiving  to  be 
this  child 
of  Africa! 

— Nicole  M.  moore 

OoptngU  O  1988  by  Nxok  M    Man 

APRIL  1989  •  ESSENCE   1 1» 

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dritfap  irfiiini  lUI.  Inni  the  ~KTicti'  oi(  <DnTm»tiaa 
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The  New  Jazz 

V  Hmitj  ADM        

WhMwp,  ftIL  Thit  ttxhttm  lintillmwil  of  tht 
■tack  Bw.  t  »wMUy  oobaia  oa  Up^op  (vktl  moM 
ptopta  can  "np")  Buic,  pnpta,  tla.  nihun,  what' 
wwpopiiaianjrbad,  tad  oiktr  ntaud  tad  untatM 

SoBM  auattt  t«o,  wkaa  I  Int  qiok*  lA  Ma«ttia( 
Ediiar  UuImC  Laid  (a  nf*  drf  doM  typt  poxa; 
y«a  ikculd  !•(  u  kaw  kar  If  >«•  oa)  abeu  wrillai 
a  Up4Kv  for  Ika  5m  kar  bailc  Rply  wu  Moa 
ouBboCobuBbojaa^  tboat  )m  folk  aot  baiaf  la- 
lanaud  la  iha  ubjao.  Tlaia  ptoad,  IkoualiU  van 
achtniad,  tad  Ika  nub  it  thit  ooliuna,  uabn.  I 
xUavc,  la  a  BUck-ovaed  paWlfiilna  bgr  a  toa  of  tk* 
ravohuioa.  Mt  Laid  tad  i  ktn  workad  ctocly  oa  tkU, 
lad  I'M  kaaa  iHartd  tkti  Vm  yieaa  |at  u  uy  tka 
tkia|>  tkti  and  w  ba  laid.  Oood. 

Fm  daiai  ikU  cotiuna  tor  Ikraa  laaioei:  aioaay, 
XBXia  tad  uspcMranataL  Moaay  it  *  givaa.  Tka 
xktr  two  u«Ct  b«>  an  iaucraipad.  For  ika  paopla, 
iktn  art  tkiafi  1  waaaa  lay  Klxkout  tooM  wUia  ptnoa 
Mkiof  0««r  aiy  ikouldar,  oclamlalaf  tka  tlaitltbla  of 
ay  Biirmimii,  thck  ooaiaal,  ikapt,  daplk,  or  poUlio, 
jr  tenia'  paid  for  my  afldcu  (puUithiaf  U  pnlv 

Tka  Bion  y«u  kaow,  Ika  (nar  yoa  tat,  tka  Bon  y«a 
aa  da  Youat  Black  paepla  wko  laad  Ikii  oaiuaa  «iB ' 
can  tboiu  Ika  auuic.  tkaa  taka  tioa  la  nad  akoat 

■  K««fcViii«i>lil»kltttliiiii«ttkw««kkltci<yt«f 
tit^twMlM  IV  <nckkttdt  tl  Ika  T7ik  Pradaet  tad 
Ika  isaa^uaan  ai  tka  1061k.  Oldat  Black  paopU  «IU 
nad  Ikk,  tkaa  laka  Ika  liaM  10  talk  lo  tkalr  yeuai 
paopla  tbom  «ktt  tkay^r*  litnad.  Tkal't  wbal  tka 
nppan  do.  wUck  It  wky  loait  yeuof  paopla  pltoa 
nan  (Uka  la  Ika  »«di  of  Rua-DJilC  tkaa  ikoaa  of 
Ikalr  own  ptraaii. 

Tka  traaimlitloa  of  ciUiun  U  pawa>,  baby.  Pun, 
ilaipla  tad  unifktmp. 


You  kaow  tkla:  Africaa-Anwrieta  blood  U  ifca  fual 
of  Amaiicta  oilikL  Wan  It  aot  for  npa  aad  kidatp- 
pla(  aad  lanontt  acu  oonnnliliid  tftiati  African 
vbaa  Eiir^paaai  biimoukad  tka  •o<allad  Now 
World,  Aaarict  wold  aavar  ktva  btd  aaau|k  mutcla 
10  enau  lualf,  bulldlai  lu  uptrurueuin  tad  d*' 
««lop<af  Ik*  catk  crap— sooaa— tkti  intitd  lu  tUdk 
lata  atodaralty  tad  tka  vortd  aitrkatptae*.  Whiiti 
aoold  UIU  ba  Mand  of  uwaloaa,  would  itUl  ba  dyiaf 
Ilka  Ilea  fraa  taiaUpox.  aad  would  uili  ba  laUaa  tU 
»tak>  10 1«<  lliair  nitQ.  Look  ia  your  kluary  boob  If 
you  doa'i  kaow  wkti  Ikti  aMtat. 

AfrlcafrAoMilcaa  mule  it  tka  Unuf  of  Ancrlcaa 
auuic  la  botk  MtM  of  tka  word— iha  fcrct  bakiad  it 
at  wall  l»  wktl  tvtrytody  tlu  b  tryloi  to  tat  lo 
Witkoul  our  fiuky  batti,  Jlp,  kymu  tad  niauau 
would  todtr  rula  tka  Aiaarlcaa  Top  Forty.  Mutictl 
laaontioa la  Amaricaku  tlwtyt  beta daliueaKd  by 
tha  Black  diwafraacklKd— dealuai  of  Uia  Batlt 
Siraatt.  Cooia  S^uana  tad  Ouo  Hill  Hoadt  of  Aaw 

Bat  oa  10  fclp-kop,  pnpcr,  Pm  of  tka  opiaioa  tkat 
tkota  looUaf  for  aaw  daniopoaau  la  Black  muti* 
ilMuid  suit  lookiat  lo  Wyaloa  klanaUi  aad  nan 
lookiat  to  Marlay  ktoiL  *Tka  tklai  tkall  aatattaf." 
'  ■ay>On*u*ODlintaalUrkatila|oa*«f  Jk*dJ.'i 
aaiaaiUaa,  *%  tkai  ta  of  Ika  no  aaiia .  ^.  kat  aiada 
Ika  rkytka  Ik*  atlodX)  Tka  rkytta  it  w  Hfoaf."  Hip- 

Hop  la  Tka  Ntw  Jan.  tka  noct  lifaiaeaat  miuleai 
itataaiaal  la  tka  laooad  kalf  of  ibli  caauuy,  InciiKlIni 
rack  'a'  rail  ona.  baeauta  It'i  w  Black:  iwo,  bccauw 
U'l  yooaf;  aad  tkna,  bactuM,  for  tbaar  musical  fcrac- 
Uy,  II  eoU-waits  amYtkioi  cUa. 

Today,  tka  annfe  Black  youni  pcttoa  trowinf  up 
la  tka  Scutk  Brau.  Ika  leaanlly  iccaplad  binliplace 
of  tiili  muilc,  formi  no  ImjnadUu  ralaiiontbip  with  t 
baiOo,  uxophcoc  or  mimpct.  So  li  imounu  lo  moctly 
'wilbful  UUiiklot  to  believe  thai  they  would  adopt  chcu 
iattnunsau  tj  ihcir  tools  of  melodic,  harmonic  and 
rhythraic  upresslon. 

Bui  cvarybody  has  records  and  everybody  has  i 
racord  pUyer.  Everybody  fan  niau  lo  Ihese  Ihinp.  So 
It's  la/i  10  Ike  woof  of  inese  African-American  minds 
10  warp  Ikcsa  musle  makan— ihcsa  togs,  bows  and 
baa)oi  of  Ikair  atiilaacaa— into  Ike  Implamaau  of 
tkalr  owa  aaw  musical  visioo.  Tkroufk  kip-hop,  usia| 
Ufa-tluir,  Bliok  taaiMtara  kava  made  a  musical  lUla- 
mant  and  bafua  tka  craaiioe  of  a  musical  laatua(a  oa 
Ikair  own  larmt.  This  is  a  maanlnfful  trst  in  tka  history 
of  Ika  Amarieaa  beU. 

Uadanlaad  my  eomparisoa  of  hip-kop  with  Jazz. 
Than  Is  ao  way  I  will  compart  ihe  artistry  of  John 
Coitraaa  to  that  of  Bl|  Daddy  Kane— ytu  There  is  also 
ao  need  lo.  I  love  ike  work  of  both  trtisu  and  |ei 
differaai  Ihinp  (aad  iha  same  thin|S)  from  them. 

I'm  lalkiai  about  Jazz's  spptrtni  failura  lo  meet  t 
sodtl  Bced,  t  place  in  Ihe  lives  of  Ihe  Black  youth 
'movint  into  Ika  2 1  it.  Some  people  uy  ibai  when  jazz 
became  a  "downtown"  music,  when  ii  became  i  music 
that  Black  people  would  no  longer  donci  to,  ii  became 
that  "somethioi  eUe"  to  iu  former  coosiiiuency.  Some 
hlam*  lelcyisloB  and  radio.  What  do  you  uy? 

la  Ihe  CManlime.  I  uy  with  hip-hop  there's  an 
azlaaalM  of  tradiiioo.  Hip-hop,  Uka  Jazz.  Is  Black 
auuic;  tka  aiaiodic,  karmonic,  rhythmic  essences  of 
Black  lirlat.  tkoufhl,  and  beef— made  up  by  Blacks, 
Improvad  tpoa  by  Blaakt,  rejected  by  onttla  Blacks 
tad  wkitai,  laeaplad  la  aoiotioaal  tad  bmocuo'  tads 
Coalliiuad  oa  Pag*  20 

Continued  from  Page  16 

by  many  whites.  L  ike  jazz  before  it.  hip-hop  arose  froir. 
the  dreams  of  an  underclass.  Like  jazz  in  its  various 
periods,  most  of  the  people  who  make  hip-hop  know 
diiii-ioctalize  with  each  other.  Like  jazz  before  it,  hip- 
hop  values  improvisation,  repetition,  individual  in- 
terpretation and  expression  and  the  primacy  of  ihe 
voice  as  an  insirumenl  and  lonal  ideal  Like  jazz,  it 
values  ;he  reinterpreation  of  original  musical  ideas  to 
Its  own  end.  via  cuttin'  and  scratchin'.  Like  jazz,  its 
stuff  IS  the  par'.icular  ideas,  imagery  and  things  of  its 
audience,  the  youth  who  maintain  culturally  psychic 
connections  with  Billie,  Miles,  Max  and  Diz 

Also,  like  jazz,  hip-hop's  innovators  were  often 
knocked  to  the  wayside,  either  by  their  own  stupidity, 
their  blind  drive  for  fame,  their  lack  of  experience  and 
business  sense,  or  by  out-for-mine  record  label  owners. 
only  to  often  watch  less-talented  successors  succeed 
Like  jazz  did  initially,  hip-hop  suffers  from  Black 
boojie  disdain.  (As  homeboy  Bill  Stephney  said  to  me 
once,  "1  knew  rap  was  starting  to  get  over  when  I 
started  seeing  buppies  coming  to  the  gigs.")  Though  it 
IS  now  a  sign  of  "culture"  among  certain  Negroes  to 
admit  a  fondness  for  jazz,  initially  jazz  was  not  seen  as 
an  art  embodying  the  highest  of  human  values. 
African-American  sensibilities,  or  formal  expressions 
that  splatter  European  concepts  of  music  It  wasn't  the 
type  of  things  you  bragged  about  listening  to  li  was 
just  nigger-noise 

As  then,  it's  a  shame  thai  many  Black  people 
despise  hip-hop.  the  creation  of  their  own  blood  When 
Black  kids  come  home  saying,  "Mommy,  look  whai  I 

piade!"  holding  up  a  scribbled •■,:ul  rhyme.  "Gci  thai 
noise  away  from  mel"  has  more  often  than  not  been  the 
reaction.  Individually  and  collectively,  ihe  result  is  as 
divisive  as  trashing  the  proverbial  first  drawing  in  from 
of  the  proverbial  first-grade  While  Blacks  go  through 
this  self-hate  thing,  whites  make  much  money  olTof  the 
form  through  records,  movies,  videos,  books,  clothes 
etc  They  did  it  with  jaz/  They  continue  lo  do  it  with 

Thus,  the  biggest  error  of  media  aicnues  such  av 
Black  'Enterprise.  Ebony,  Essence  I  he  Atnsierdani 
!\'ews.  The  Cil}  Sun.  L:ke  li  Is  and  the  people  for 
whom  they  speak  was  to  regard  the  phenomenon  ol 
hip-hop  as  an  aberration  rather  than  like  the  Pan  II  ii 
really  is.  Whatever  you  think  of  the  music,  it  comes  oui 
of  the  river  of  Africa-America,  flowm'  and  grow-in 
with  a  passion.  It  comes  out  of  yuu  Whatever  you 
think  of  The  New  Jazz,  every  one  of  you  knows 
someone  who  understands  it  and  (/i.i;.v  a  for  this  reason 
alone,  it  is  part  of  your  Black  life  This  paper  needs  lu 
deal  with  it.  will  deal  with  it.  and  \  '.ill  need  lo  with 

Until  then,  I'd  like  to  lca\e  mhi  "  iih  mpiik-  ilnuichi- 
on  all  of  this  from  M.i.v  Plaiuk.  niiuinauu  ..'  ihi 
quantum  theory; 

A  ne'n  scientific  truth  does  nut  Irnmipli  h'  cm- 
vincing  its  opponents  and  making  iheni  see  the 
light,  but  rather  because  us  opponents  evin- 
lually  die  out,  and  a  ne^-  generation  gro-^s  up 
that  is  familiar  with  it 

Questions,  comments  and/or  suggestions''  Send 
them  to:  Harry  Allen.  The  Black  Box,  c/o  The  Cits 
Sun.  GPO  Box  560,  Brooklyn,  NY  1 1202 


If  You  Think  Rap  Is  Violent,  What  About  Booze? 

'  Barry    AlUn^  'uf^^^foUs  . 
himMtfa  Hip^xit  ActiaUt   ' 
md  Umiia  Asmttbi^-U  th*  / 
tUrtdor  of  mmtyTdationt ^  \i 
for  tht   rap  froup  PubUa.      ' 
Entmy.  ThU  u  oaapud  from  an  o/ticU  thai 
appmirtd  tn  Tht  City  Sun. 

By  Harry  Allen 

IF  THE  BLACK  PEOPLE  who  mv\A^  Inner 
City  Broadcaftin^  ((rwrten  or  radio  fution 
WBLS  in  New  York).  r»dio  lUtion  KACE  m 
Lo«  Anfclea.  uid  other  urban  media  companies  ore 
■e  intereatad  in  prtKecting  their  listening  audi- 
ence* from  violence,  miaogyny  and  prorantty  —  aa 
they  thould  be.  and  ai  they  recently  aajd  they  were 
when  ihey  banned  certain  aongi  —  why  do  they 
fUll  accept  advertifing  from  hquor  manufacturer!, 
ecpecially  malt-tiquor  ad'ertiAinK  and  promote 
lh(9M:  produAa  for  money'* 

'Violence'"'  The  uae 
of  the  drug  aicohol  hai 
been  anentiftcaUy  and 
•ignificanUy  connected 
to  a  hoit  of  illi  that 
plague  black  people: 
murder:  job  abtentee- 
lam  and  unemploy- 
ment, low  birth 
weight.  abnormalitteB 
and  retArdation  in  in- 
fanta, liver  ajid  heart  diaeaae.  poor  academic 
performance:  fires,  hometeaanets:  aa  weU  aa  ris- 
ing inodences  of  cancer  and  AiDS  More  than 
18  million  US  adulu  have  aigniricanl  alcohol- 
related  problem!  Twenty  percent  of  all  hospitAJ 
coau.  46.000  trWTic-crash  deathi  and  534.000  in- 
/unet  annually,  one-third  of  all  drowning  and 
boat  deaths.  64  percent  of  all  people  convicted  of 
vioieni  cnmes.  20  to  36  perceni  of  all  suiades. 
and  the  ma^nty  of  rapes  and  assaults  in  the 
United  Stales  arv  dirrctly  alcohol -related 

'Misogyny"  and  "'profanity'"'  Though  pro- 
gram directors  might  find  no  official  statistics  to 
venfy  this,  ask  female  members  of  your  audi- 
ence how  high  the  "  —  you.  bitch'"  -count  goes 
after  their  mate  dnnks  s  high-aJcohol  "G.  Heile- 
man  Brewing  Co .  La  Croaae.  Wisconsin."  prod- 
uct You  know  —  like  Coll  45  Ask  how  many 
have  gotten  hit  after  their  man  took  s  hit  from 
one  of  your  most  lucrative  advertisers'  products 
T^ien  reread  the  U  S  Department  of  Health  and 
Human  Services.  U  S  Department  of  Justice. 
L' S  Department- of  Tranaponation.  Census  Bu- 
reau and  Centers  for  Disease  Control  figures 
oted  abo\-e.  and  weep  The  soaal  cosu  of  alco- 
hol related  problems  are  more  than  S85  billion 
and  105.000  deaths  per  yt^  That's  nearly  twice 
the  number  of  "Amencans"  who  died  in  Viet- 

\Ik)    pleAM*  drtn'l  pve  us  th«l   "our  product. 

when  us«d  in  moderation"  line,  tither.  Approxi- 
mately II  of  aocia]  cosU  is  craatad  for  fvery  re- 
tail doUar  tpent  on  alcoholic  beverages.  In  other 
words,  this  stufT  is  literally  useUu. 

Meanwhile,  the  use  of  hip-hop  has  been  acien- 
liTically  connected  to  well,  nothing  but  the 

use  of  hip>hop  So  whom  in  the  world  are  Black 
media  people  really  trying  to  protecf  Their  au- 
dience'' Or  their  stations'  low  ratings,  low  shares 
and  wealthy,  white  big-ticket-item  advertisers, 
especially  the  ones  who  pay  more  for  an  adult 
Black  audience  th«n  they  do  for  the  Block  tc-cn- 
age  one  that  hip-hop  draws'' 

This  year,  a   lot  of 
the  best-dressed,  best- 
educated,  best-spoken, 
most  religious   Black 
people  gave  quality 
time  to  attacking  hip- 
hop.  Call  it  giving  out 
placebos  for  poison,  or 
putting  a  Band-Aid  on 
a  bullet  wound    If  you 
run   down   the   list   of 
Black  people's  top   100  problems,  "gangsta  rap" 
—  a   vague  and   undefined   musical   category   — 
places  aomewhcre  around  439th 

While  supremacy  ts  No  1  with  a  bullet  White 
supremacy  is  the  phenomenon  to  which  hip-hop 
II  Itself  a  reaction  But  none  of  the  Black  people 
publicly  criticizing  hip-hop.  or  "certain  kinds  of 
rap  music."  have,  at  tho  same  time,  provided  a 
succinct  analysis  of  the  white-supremacy  phe- 
nomenon None  has  even  mentioned  white  su- 
premacy by  name  Why  is  that'* 

In  the  meantime,  hip-hop  rockets  in  influence 
Why"*  Because  it  is  an  artistically  adventurous 
culture  that  makes  a  robusi  —  one  would  even  asy 
an  obvMui  —  critiasm  of  racism,  and  racism's  un- 
compensated insult  Because  hip-hop  is  a  wide  and 
flexible  form  of  communication  that  white  record 
company  and  media  executives,  often  criticized  in 
the  above  scenarios,  have  shown  great  imagination 
in  manipulating  —  imagination  that  Black  people 
have  not  even  begun  to  emulate 

Why"*  Because  hip-hop  is  real-ume,  up-to-lhe- 
minute,  high-bsnd-width  This  is  how  it  works 
The  vocalists  —  those  who  dramstiie  violence 
on  iheir  records  and  those  who  don't  —  take  the 
Ihinp  that  Black  people  see.  lalk  about  them 
and.  in  doing  so.  make  thoac  things  rhythmic 
Doing  this.  then,  makes  thiwc  things,  fur  Black 
people.  pertua»tue  and  relevartt  Hip-hop  is  really 
s  form  o(  prrarhtng 

This  procMS  doesn't  cause  viotence.  any  more 
than  preaching  about  adultery  cauaea  adultery 
This  process  is  caused  by  violence.  It  is  preceded 
by  centuries  of  white-on-Black  violence  thst 
black  people  have  yet  to  fully  men/ion,  even  as 
we  inherit  this  legacy  I  mean,  realty:  If  you 
were  going  to  make  a  song  about  an  existence 
where  the  midnight  sounds  of  sutomatic  gunHre 
riddled  your  dreams,  what  would  you  call  that 
song''  "Betcha  by  Golly  Wow'"*  "Sketches  of 
Spain'"^  "Mr   Sandman'"* 

Or  would  you  call  it  "TrigBa  Got*  No  Heart'"' 
Hip-hop.  says  Chuck  D.  is  'Black  peoples 
CNN  "  Is  that  why  so  many  people  keep  trying 
to  turn  it  ofT  Just  like  with  CNN,  all  of  the 
"experu"  thought  hip-hop  wasn't  going  to  last, 

We  are  not  arguing  for  violence  No  person 
should  be  violent  except,  perhaps,  to  stop  vio- 
lence. We  are  not  arguing  for  Black  people  call- 
ing each  other  "bitches."  "hoes,"  "niggers"  or 
"niggas"  No  one  should  call  any  person  a  name 
that  that  person  doesn't  want  to  be  called. 

However,  what  we  are  arguing  for  is  truth. 
That,  and  conMiMlency  If  you  want  to  eliminste 
Black  people's  ills,  you  first  must  eliminate  the 
root  cause  —  racism,  the  sole  expression  of 
which  IS  white  supremacy  Much  as  ministers, 
politicians  and  regular  folk  try  to  get  around  it, 
there  is  no  way  past  this  obvious  and  glaring 

If  you  don't  want  a  low  Arbitron  rating,  play 
what  your  audiences  want  to  hear  when  they 
want  to  hear  it.  and  not  /.5  years  after  s  record- 
ed music  form  starts' 

If  you  don't  want  to  promote  violence,  misogy- 
ny and  profanity  —  aJI  three  —  don't  take  ads 
for  the  upcoming  "Beverly  Hills  Cop  III"  movie 

And  if  Blsck  media  people  are  against  the 
things  that  they  think  might  harm  people 
t"g«ngsta  rsp."  "quote-unquote-unquote-un- 
quote"),  why  do  they  take  money  for  pushing 
beer,  mall  liquor  and  wine,  which  definitely  do** 
And  if  alcohol  is  a  drug,  why  doesn't  this  make 
those  Black  media  people  drug  dealers? 

Yet.  still,  they  are  our  mothers,  fathers,  u.^ 
cles.  aunts,  brothers,  sisters  snd  fnnds  Hip-hop 
needs  their  knowledfte  and  the  benefit  of  their 

The  problem,  though,  is  that  what  hip-hop 
gets  most  consistently  from  oloer.  "middle-cIftM'" 
Black  people  in  "media. "  "manngemeni."  "the 
public  sector"  and  'the  clergy"  is  cri/i<-i»"i 
CrtUaum    That,  and  n  stiflint:.  ntui^fyirxn  lack  of 


Anti-Defamation  League, 
Washington,  DC,  March  4,  1994. 
Jamie  Schwing, 
Committee  on  the  Judiciary, 
U.S.  Senate,  Washington,  DC. 

Dear  Jamie:  Following  up  on  our  conversation  earlier  this  week,  I  am  writing  to 
ask  that  the  attached  ADL  Special  Reports,  "Hip  to  Hate:  Hateful  Ljoics  in  Rap  and 
Rock,"  and  "Sounds  of  Hate:  Neo-Nazi  Rock  Music  from  Germany,"  be  included  in 
the  record  for  the  Subcommittee's  February  23  hearing  "Shaping  our  Responses  to 
Violence  and  Demeaning  Imagery  in  Popular  Music." 

The  Anti-Defamation  League  is  concerned  with  the  increasing  incidence  of  lyrics 
conveying  themes  of  hatred  and  violence  in  popular  music.  Performers  who  make 
use  of  violent,  anti-Semitic,  racist,  and  misogjTiist  lyrics  are  not  limited  to  relatively 
obscure  neo-Nazi  Skin-head  bands,  but  now  include  individuals  with  large 
followings  and  lucrative  record  contracts — exposing  millions  of  young  people  to  a  de- 
structive message  of  hate. 

We  do  not  question  the  constitutional  right  of  these  performers  to  express  them- 
selves— however  offensive  their  beliefs.  But  culture  has  consequences — and  the 
growing  tolerance  of  racism,  anti-Semitism,  and  violence  toward  women  and  minori- 
ties in  rap  and  rock  lyrics  is  a  real  concern. 

We  very  much  appreciate  the  inclusion  of  these  two  ADL  reports  in  the  hearing 
record.  We  trust  they  will  complement  the  testimony  submitted  earlier  for  this  hear- 


Michael  Lieberman, 
Associate  Director  /  Counsel. 

An  ADL  Special  Report 

hip  to  hate 

Hateful  lyrics  in  rap  and  rock 


Rock-and-roll  music,  like  other  forms  of  cultural  and  artistic  expression,  has  often 
been  associated  with  the  freeing  of  the  individual  from  social  convention.  In  the 
1950's,  performers  such  as  Little  Richard,  Jerry  Lee  Lewis,  and  Elvis  Presley 
opened  new  cultural  paths  and  possibilities  in  the  midst  of  social  conformity.  In  the 
60's,  such  musical  styles  as  folk,  soul,  and  rock  reflected  changing  attitudes  toward 
Civil  Rights  and  the  Vietnam  War.  For  the  most  part,  the  popular  music  of  today 
maintains  this  spirit  of  creative  exuberance  and  cultural  pluralism. 

Recently,  however,  there  have  been  notable  and  disturbing  instances  in  which  cer- 
tain performers  have  exhibited  the  most  stifling  and  unimaginative  mindset  of  all, 
by  conforming  to  notions  and  forces  of  bigotry,  violence  and  hate.  Make  no  mistake: 
the  performers  discussed  in  this  report  £ire  not  obscure  neo-Nazi  Skin-head  bands 
performing  for  tiny  audiences  and  recording  for  little-known  labels.  Guns  'n  Roses, 
PubUc  Enemy,  Ice  Cube,  Sister  Souljah,  and  the  other  groups  featured  here  have 
immense  followings,  enjoy  lucrative  record  contracts,  and  receive  generous  coverage 
on  radio  and  television.  Whether  their  popularity  has  grown  because  of  or  in  spite 
of  their  forays  into  prejudice,  they  have  been  allowed — and  perhaps  even  encour- 
aged— to  expose  millions  of  young  people  to  this  destructive  message.  It  is  their  con- 
stitutional right  to  express  themselves  no  matter  how  offensive  their  beliefs  are.  But 
it  is  also  the  right — indeed  a  moral  obligation — for  those  who  abhor  and  unequivo- 
cally reject  hatred  to  expose  and  denounce  such  poisonous  messages  in  whatever 
form  they  are  spread. 

In  this  spirit,  the  Anti-Defamation  League  of  B'nai  B'rith  presents  the  following 

It  seems  that  some  aspects  of  pop  culture  have  become  toxic.  Words,  images  and 
ideas  conveying  anti-Semitism  as  well  as  hostility  toward  minorities  and  women, 
formerly  the  domain  of  the  gutter  or  the  extreme  right,  have  begun  to  seep  into 
mainstream  culture  to  find  surprising  acceptance  and  legitimacy — with  unfortunate 
consequences  for  their  targets  and  for  the  social  atmosphere  of  our  nation.  Recent 
years  have  seen  an  escalating  trend  toward  popularizing  these  themes  by  heavy 


metal  and  rap  music  groups  such  as  Guns  'n  Roses,  Public  Enemy,  Ice  Cube,  and 
N.W.A.  ("Niggers  With  Attitude"). 

In  1990,  Madonna  issued  a  remix  of  a  single  named  "The  Beast  Within"  which 
says,  "I  know  your  tribulations  and  your  poverty,  and  the  slander  of  those  who  say 
they  are  Jews.  They  are  not.  They  are  a  synagogue  of  Satan."  The  release  of  that 
record  may  have  been  more  than  coincidental  with  the  vandalizing  of  three  syna- 
gogues and  a  high  school  in  Ventura  County,  California,  with  anti-Semitic  graffiti 
referring  to  Revelations  2:0,  the  New  Testament  passage  quoted  by  Madonna,  that 
has  been  the  basis  of  centuries-old  anti-Semitic  animus. 

Other  music  groups  have  popularized  themes  of  sexual  violence,  racism 
homophobia,  suicide  and  drugs.  The  heavy  metal  band  Guns  'n  Roses  sets  xeno- 
phobia to  music  in  a  song  called  "One  in  a  Million."  The  song  includes  the  verse: 
'Immigrants  and  faggots/They  make  no  sense  to  me/They  come  to  our  country/And 
think  they'll  do  as  they  please/Like  start  some  mini-Iran  or  spread  some  [expletive] 
disease."  A  recent  recording  by  rap  group  2  Live  Crew  describes,  with  apparent  ap- 
proval, violent  sexual  assaiHts  on  women. 

Professor  Griff  and  Public  Enemy 

Professor  Griff,  the  former  "Minister  of  Information"  (but  not  an  on-stage  per- 
former) for  the  highly  popular  group  Public  Enemy,  came  to  public  attention  in  May 
1989,  when  he  gave  an  interview  to  the  Washington  Times.  In  that  interview.  Pro- 
fessor Griff  said,  among  many  other  things,  that  Jews  are  responsible  for  "the  ma- 
jority of  wickedness  that  goes  on  across  the  globe" ;  that  Jews  "have  a  grip  on  Amer- 
ica" ;  and  that  Jews  "have  a  history  of  killing  Black  men."  He  also  saia  "Is  it  a  coin- 
cidence that  Jews  run  the  jewelry  business,  and  it's  named  ^'eit^elry? "  According  to 
the  Washington  Times  (May  29,  1989),  "Professor  Griffs  belief  in  a  worldwide  Jew- 
ish conspiracy  is  based  partly  on  notorious,  decades-old  anti-Semitic  texts  such  as 
The  International  Jew  by  Henry  Ford — which  are  available  in  Muslim  bookstores — 
and  on  taperecorded  speeches  deUvered  at  Farrakhan's  Chicago  headquarters  by 
Steve  Cokely,  the  Black  nationalist  and  conspiracy  theorist."  The  Times  also  re- 
ported that  Griff  said:  "The  Jews  can  come  against  me.  They  can  send  the  IRS  after 
me.  They  can  send  their  faggot  little  hit  men.  I  mean,  that  don't  move  me."  The 
Times  reporter  wrote  that  he  "asked  why  The  International  Jew  was  among  the 
many  books  and  pamphlets  the  members  of  Public  Enemy  had  stacked  on  a  table 
for  my  visit  to  their  headquarters."  James  Norman,  a  member  of  the  Public  Enemy 
group,  replied:  "Don't  get  hung  up  on  this  one  book.  We're  studious  people.  We 
study.  And  this  just  happens  to  be  a  book  that  we've  read." 

On  June  29,  1989,  Pubhc  Enemy  announced  that  it  had  disbanded.  Shortly  before 
this,  the  group  said  it  had  fired  Professor  Griff.  This  breakup  would  prove  to  be 
short-lived;  Public  Enemy  re-established  its  relationship  with  Professor  Griff  shortly 
afterwards.  In  1990  Griff  was  again  fired  by  PubUc  Enemy,  and  has  not  rejoined 
the  group  since. 

Public  Enemy,  whose  records  have  sold  millions  of  copies,  are  devoted  fans  of 
Louis  Farrakhan,  and  lyrics  of  their  songs  have  praised  him.  One  of  the  group's 
members,  Chuck  D.,  raps  in  "Bringing  the  Noise  :  "Farrakhan's  a  prophet  and  I 
think  you  ought  to  listen  toAVhat  he  can  say  to  you,  what  you  ought  to  do." 

Farrakhan  s  continuing  impact  on  Public  Enemy  was  reflected  in  another  song, 
"Welcome  to  the  Terrordome,"  released  in  December  1989.  The  New  York  Times 
commented  on  December  27,  1989: 

Its  [Public  Enemy's]  response  to  a  controversy  last  summer  over  anti-Se- 
mitic statements  by  its  "minister  of  information  has  now  appeared  in  lyrics 
from  its  new  single,  'Welcome  to  the  Terrordome,"  that  also  seems  to  cross 
the  line  into  anti-Semitism. 

The  lyrics  include  "Told  the  rab,  'get  off  the  rag,'"  and: 

Crucifixion  ain't  no  fiction 
So-called  chosen,  frozen 
Apology  made  to  whoever  pleases 
Still  they  got  me  like  Jesus. 

Interpretation:  Told  the  rabbi  to  stop  complaining;  the  Jews  ("so-called  chosen") 
have  crucified  Public  Enemy. 

On  August  12,  1989,  The  New  York  Times  reported  that  despite  its  announced  in- 
tention to  disband,  Pubhc  Enemy  had  played  tour  dates  in  August,  and  that  Profes- 
sor Griff,  who  had  been  fired,  had  been  rehired  by  the  group.  His  new  position  was 
as  the  group's  liaison  to  the  Black  community.  Chuck  D.  Ridenhour,  Pubhc  Enemy's 
songwriter  and  main  rapper,  said:  "Griff  is  not  anti-Semitic;  he  hangs  out  with 
Falasha  Jews  from  Ethiopia  damn  near  every  other  month." 


Juan  Williams  disclosed  "Music's  ugly  new  trend:  racism,  sexism  and  gay-bash- 
ing," in  an  article  in  The  Washington  Post  on  October  15,  1989.  The  article  stated 
that  "In  a  June  news  conference.  Chuck  D.  of  Public  Enemy  excused  the  anti-Semi- 
tism of  Professor  Griffs  comments  by  explaining  the  group  is  'not  anti -Jewish,  anti- 
anyone — we  are  pro-Black.'  This  failed  logic,  which  equated  pro-Black  stance  with 
bigotry  toward  whites  and  particularly  Jews,  has  been  allowed  to  flourish  by  the  ab- 
sence of  outcry  from  Black  civil  rights  groups." 

A  major  controversy  erupted  at  Columbia  University  in  February,  1990,  when 
Professor  Griff  was  invited  by  the  Black  Students  Organization  to  deliver  a  speech 
at  the  university.  The  student  group  said  it  issued  the  invitation  because  "it  consid- 
ered Mr.  Griffin  (GriflTs  real  name)  an  important  force  in  Black  America."  {New  York 
Times,  Feb.  8,  1990)  GrifPs  appearance  was  closed  to  the  press. 

Since  the  appearance  of  "Welcome  to  the  Terrordome,"  there  have  been  no  further 
instances  of  anti-Semitism  in  Public  Enemy  IjTics. 

On  May  12,  1990,  the  Black  newspaper  New  York  Voice  reported  that  Professor 
Griff  had  been  severed  again  from  Public  Enemy  after  a  recent  altercation  with  a 
white  rapper  from  the  group  3rd  Bass.  Griff  reportedly  called  the  rapper  a  "faggot 
Jew  bastard."  Griff  has  not  appeared  with  Public  Enemy  since  that  time,  and  has 
been  making  speaking  engagements  on  his  own  around  the  country. 

Professor  Griff  appeared  at  Southern  Connecticut  State  University  on  February 
22,  1991.  His  speech  included  a  twenty-minute  anti-Semitic  diatribe  about  "Jewish 
control."  In  July  1991,  Griff  was  the  featured  speaker  at  the  Cincinnati  Black  Book 
Fair.  He  stated  it  was  a  "fact"  that  "white  people  have  made  it  with  animals  and 
monkeys  in  the  caves  of  Europe."  Griff  said,  "Jewish  doctors,  along  with  Russian 
and  American  doctors,  got  together  and  invented  the  AIDS  virus  in  a  laboratory." 

Ice  cube 

Ice  Cube  (O'Shea  Jackson)  is  a  highly  popular  rap  singer  who  was  prominently 
featured  in  the  recent  film  "Boyz  'N  the  Hood."  His  most  recent  album,  "Death  Cer- 
tificate," which  was  released  in  November  1991,  has  been  widely  criticized  for  its 
anti-Semitic,  anti-Korean,  anti-gay  and  anti-women  lyrics.  The  trade  newspaper  of 
the  music  industry.  Billboard,  in  an  unusual  editorial  in  November  1991,  stated  that 
Ice  Cube's  "unabashed  espousal  of  violence  against  Koreans,  Jews  and  other  whites 
crosses  the  line  that  divides  art  from  the  advocacy  of  crime." 

In  a  song  called  "Black  Korea,"  Ice  Cube  warns: 

So  don't  follow  me  up  and  down  yovu"  market/or  your  little  chop  suey  ass 
will  be  a  target/So  pay  your  respect  to  the  Black  fist/or  we'll  burn  your  store 
right  down  to  a  crisp. 

In  another  song  aimed  apparently  at  the  Jewish  manager  of  Ice  Cube's  former 
group,  NWA,  Ice  Cube  writes  in  "No  Vaseline" : 

*  *  *  Get  rid  of  that  devil,  real  simple/put  a  bullet  in  his  temple/cause 
you  can't  be  the  nigger  for  life  crewAVith  a  white  Jew  telling  you  what  to 

The  New  York  Times  reported  in  November  1991  that  the  packaging  of  the  albvun 
"urges  young  Blacks  to  join  the  Nation  of  Islam  and  shows  Ice  Cube  reading  a  news- 
paper with  the  headline  'Unite  or  Perish.' "  The  Times  wrote: 

In  "Black  Korea,"  his  revenge  against  Asian  shopkeepers  who  are  sus- 
picious of  their  ghetto  customers  is  to  suggest  a  nationwide  boycott  and,  as 
a  bonus,  arson  *  *  *  a  corpse  with  a  toe  tag  reading  "Uncle  Sam"  is  on  the 
cover.  "Horny  Lil'  Devil,"  a  rant  against  miscegenation,  goes  out  of  its  way 
to  derogate  white  women  and  threatens  to  kill  white  men  who  desire  Black 
women  ♦  *  *.  The  worst  insult  Ice  Cube  can  think  of  *  *  *  is  to  call  some- 
one a  homosexual. 



Professor  Griff— Public  Enemy 

Jews  are  responsible  for  "the  majority  of  wickedness  that  goes  on  across  the 
globe."  (newspaper  interview) 

Told  the  rab,  'get  off  the  rag,'  Crucifixion  ain't  no  fiction 
So-called  chosen,  frozen 
Apology  made  to  whoever  pleases 
Still  they  got  me  like  Jesus. 


Is  it  a  coincidence  that  the  Jews  run  the  jewelry  business,  and  it's  named  jew- 
elry? "  (newspaper  interview) 

Axl  Rose — Guns  n'  Roses 

Police  and  niggers,  that's  right/Get  outta  my  way/Don't  need  to  buy  none/ 
Of  your  gold  chains  today. 

Immigrants  and  faggots/They  make  no  sense  to  me/they  come  to  our 
country/And  they  think  they'll  do  as  they  please/Like  start  some  mini-Iran 
or  spread  some  mckin'  disease. 

I  used  to  love  her  but  I  had  to  kill  her 

I  had  to  put  her  six  feet  under 

I  can  still  hear  her  complain. 

Ice  Cube 

Get  rid  of  that  devil,  real  simple 

Put  a  bullet  in  his  temple 

'Cause  you  can't  be  a  nigga41ife  crew 

With  a  white  Jew  telling  you  what  to  do. 


I  know  your  tribulations  and  your  poverty,  and  the  slander  of  those  who 
say  they  are  Jews.  They  are  not.  They  are  a  synagogue  of  Satan. 


Evil  E  was  out  cooling  with  a  freak  one  night 

Fucked  the  bitch  with  a  flashlight 

Pulled  it  out,  left  the  batteries  in 

So  he  could  get  a  charge  when  he  begins 

Used  his  dick,  the  shit  was  tight 

Bitch's  titties  started-blinking  like  taiil  lights 

Rolled  her  over  to  change  the  connection 

Bitch's  ugly  face  cold  spoiled  his  erection. 

2  Live  Crew 

You  sissy  motherfucker,  you  ought  to  stop  singing  *  *  *  and  spreading 


To  sum  up:  It  is  unclear  to  what  degree  today's  youth  buys  into  our  pop  culture's 
growing  tolerance  of  anti-Semitism,  racism  and  violence  toward  women  and  minori- 
ties. But  young  people  seeking  role  models  and  peer  acceptance  are  vulnerable  tar- 
gets for  the  purveyors  of  these  cynical,  hateful  messages. 

Sounds  of  Hate 
Neo-Nazi  rock  music  from  Germany 


Murders,  beatings,  synagogue  vandalism:  neo-Nazi  Skin-heads  i  have  left  their 
mark  in  the  form  of  criminal  acts  in  every  community  in  which  they  have  appeared. 
Skin-heads  have  been  convicted  or  pled  guilty  to  thirteen  homicides  in  the  United 
States  in  the  past  four  vears  and  two  are  presently  awaiting  trial  in  connection  with 
still  another  killing.  2  Tney  have  also  committed  hundreds  of  assaults  and  other  vio- 
lent crimes.  Their  victims  have  been  members  of  racial  and  religious  minorities,  ho- 
mosexuals, immigrants,  foreign  tourists,  and  other  Skin-heads. 

The  essential  facts  about  neo-Nazi  Skin-heads  in  the  United  States  are  as  follows: 

•  Beginning  with  a  mere  handful  of  adherents  in  the  mid-80's,  they  now  number 
approximately  3,000  activists  in  34  states.  Their  organizing  efforts  are  increas- 
ingly centered  around  high  schools,  where  they  have  been  enlisting  younger  and 
younger  recruits.  They  have  also  been  acquiring  more  deadly  weapons — pistols. 

iNot  all  Skin-heads  are  racists  or  neo-Nazis  yet  those  who  are  not  may  be  indistinguishable 
in  appearance  from  those  who  are.  When  the  term  "Skin-head"  is  employed  in  this  report  unless 
otherwise  indicated,  it  refers  solely  to  those  whose  racist  and  anti-Semitic  activities  make  them 
a  matter  of  concern  to  the  Anti-Defamation  league. 

2  See  Appendix  B,  page  8. 


rifles  and  semi-automatic  machine  guns — to  add  to  their  store  of  knives,  chains 
and  baseball  bats. 

•  Their  ideology  is  a  brew  of  xenophobia,  racial  and  religious  bigotry,  hatred  of 
homosexuals,  the  glorification  of  violence,  and  admiration  of  Adolf  Hitler  and 
the  Third  Reich. 

•  Their  heads  are  usually  shaven  or  closely  cropped,  their  bodies  decorated  with 
racist  tattoos,  and  they  wear  wide  braces  (suspenders)  and  heavy  steel-toed 
"Doc  Marten"  boots — a  get-up  designed  to  look  menacing. 

•  They  have  no  central  organization,  but  operate  in  gangs,  some  loosely  combined 
in  regional  networks  with  names  like  Confederate  Hammer  Skins,  Northern 
Hammer  Skins,  American  Front,  Bootboys,  White  Vikings  and  United  Skins. 
They  have  also  been  linking  up  increasingly  with  older  hate  groups:  the  Ku 
Klux  Klan,  Aryan  Nations,  White  Aryan  Resistance  and  the  Church  of  the  Cre- 

•  A  central  ingredient  of  the  Skin-heads'  lifestyle  and  their  principal  propaganda 
weapon  is  a  type  of  hard-driving  rock  music  known  as  "White  Power'  or  "Oi" 
music.  The  music  is,  in  fact,  their  chief  means  of  promoting  the  Skin-head  mes- 
sage, both  to  themselves  and  the  outside  world. 


Germany  is  the  chief  source  of  the  neo-Nazi  Skin-head  music  that  encourages  vio- 
lence and  racism  among  America's  youth.  In  Europe,  the  same  music  has  served  to 
incite  Skin-head  violence  against  foreign  immigrants  and  other  minority  groups.  The 
leading  Skin-head  bands  are  British,  but  the  company  that  manufactures  most  of 
the  Skin-head  records,  tapes  and  compact  discs  sold  in  the  United  States  and  world- 
wide is  a  German  firm,  Rock-0-Rama,  located  at  Kaiserstrasse  119,  Bruhl,  D-5040, 
telephone:  011-49-2232-22584.  The  firm's  distribution  arm  for  domestic  and  world- 
wide sales  is  Independent  Schallplaten-Vertrieb  (ISV),  Altebvirger  Str.  194,  Cologne, 
telephone:  011-49-221-372489.  Rock-0-Rama's  chief  executive  officer  is  Herbert 
Egoldt.  Its  catalogue  offers  for  sale  virtually  every  Skin-head  record  on  the  market, 
many  of  which  it  produces  itself,  others  that  it  simply  sells.  Rock-0-Rama  records 
are  available  in  most  large  U.S.  cities  in  record  shops  that  carry  imports  and  y)e- 
cialty  labels,  and  from  some  Skin-head  bands  and  racist  propaganda  outlets.  The 
German  government  has  permitted  Rock-0-Rama's  hate-spewing  records  to  be  man- 
ufactured and  exported  freely  even  though  German  law  forbids  the  production  or 
dissemination  of  neo-Nazi  and  racist  propaganda. 3  The  law  was  adopted  following 
World  War  II  to  help  prevent  the  resurrection  of  Nazism  in  Germany. 


Music  is  central  to  the  world  of  the  Skin-heads.  The  "White  Power"  songs  they 
listen  to  over  and  over  again  din  their  heads  with  racial  and  religious  bigotry;  the 
lyrics  tell  them  they  are  heroic  warriors  fighting  for  race  and  nation.  No  other 
means  of  communication — neither  the  spoken  or  written  word — compares  with  mu- 
sic's influence  on  their  outlook  and  behavior.  There  are,  infact,  no  SMn-head  news- 
papers or  magazines.  In  contrast  to  the  large  number  of  "Oi"  records  available,  the 
only  Skin-head  pubHcations  are  a  few  crude,  sporadic  newsletters,  called 
"skinzines"— which  offer  mainly  news  about  Skin-head  bands  and  their  recordings. 

Skin-heads  also  conduct  no  meetings  or  conventions.  When  they  get  together, 
most  often  it's  to  listen  to  recorded  or  live  music  at  one  of  their  "pads"  or  pt  a  club, 
or  to  engage  in  street  demonstrations.  Major  gatherings  are  occasional  "festivals" 
featuring  Skin-head  bands  and  slam  dancing.  Swastika-emblazoned  banners  deco- 
rate the  bandstands  while  Skin-heads,  arms  outstretched,  shout  "Sieg  Heil!"  and 
"White  Power! "  Such  festivals  have  been  held  in  this  country  in  California,  Okla- 
homa and  Pennsylvania.  In  Europe  they  have  been  held  in  Germany,  England,  Bel- 
gium, France  and  Italy. 

Music,  of  course,  has  a  special  power  to  arouse  raw  emotions,  which  is  why  totali- 
tarian movements  of  the  far-right  and  far-left  have  historically  made  much  use  of 
it  as  a  propaganda  weapon.  For  today's  Skin-heads,  rock  music  also  serves  as  the 
chief  means  of  attracting  and  integrating  young  recruits  into  their  ranks.  Absorbing 
bigotry  through  music  makes  the  process  a  pleasurable  ejcperience  of  sorts. 

Ed  Wolbank  is  the  director  of  the  neo-Nazi  Northern  Hammer  Skins  in  St.  Paul 
Minnesota,  and  leader  of  the  Skin-head  band  Bound  for  Glory,  which  has  been  re- 

3  Section  131  of  the  German  Criminal  Code  (Strafgesetzbuch.  StGB)  outlaws  incitement  to  ra- 
cial hatred.  Sections  86  and  86a,  StGB,  render  punishable  the  dissemination  of  Nazi  propaganda 
and  the  use  of  Nazi  symbols.  Sections  74d  and  94  of  the  code  of  criminal  procedure  allow 
confiscation  of  such  material. 


corded  by  Rock-0-Rama.  Asked  by  the  skinzine  Ultimatum,  "How  can  we  reach  the 
youth  with  our  message?  "  he  repHed,  "Music,  Music  is  the  number  one.  It's  the  best 
way  to  reach  people.  Through  music  people  can  start  getting  into  the  scene,  then 
you  can  start  educating  them.  Politics  through  music." 

There  is  also  a  nexus  linking  Skin-head  music,  alcohol  and  violence.  Courtroom 
testimony  in  a  number  of  Skin-nead  criminal  trials  indicates  that  their  violence  fol- 
lowed heavy  beer  drinking  while  listening  to  "White  Power"  records. 


The  character  of  Skin-head  records  is  obvious  from  the  titles  listed  in  Rock-0- 
Rama's  catalogue:  The  New  Storm  Troopers;  Take  the  Sword;  Reich  n'  Roll;  Johnny 
Joined  the  Klan;  Fetch  the  Rope;  White  Rider;  White  Warrior;  Fists  of  Steel;  Head 
Kicked  In;  Blood  and  Honour. 

The  lyrics  deliver  what  the  titles  promise.  Some  songs  lament  Germany's  defeat 
in  World  War  II;  others  pay  tribute  to  the  late  imprisoned  Nazi  Rudolf  Hess  and 
the  British  fascist  leader  Oswald  Moseley.  Most  simply  preach  anti-Semitism,  rac- 
ism and  violence.  The  following  are  excerpts  from  songs  by  several  of  the  most  popu- 
lar Skin-head  bands,  all  recorded  by  Rock-0-Rama: 

We  were  the  country  that  had  everything 

We  were  the  country.  Rule  Britannia  we  would  sing 

We  were  the  country,  and  we  could  never  lose. 

Once  a  nation,  and  now  we're  run  by  Jews 

We  want  our  country  back  now 

The  sands  of  time  are  running  out  for  this  land 

It's  time  the  people  stood  and  raised  their  hands 

It's  time  we  drove  out  the  traitors  we  can  see 

Now  is  the  time  this  nation  should  be  free,  free  my  land. 

From  "Free  my  Land" 
Band:  Skrewdriver 

You  feel  love  for  your  people, 

Disdain  for  the  fools. 

The  enemies  led  by  the  Zionist  tools, 

You  fight  for  your  race  which  shall  be  proud  and  free. 

The  only  reward  that  you  crave  is  victorj'. 

From  "White  Rider" 
Band:  Skrewdriver 

They  come  here  to  this  country,  from  the  jungles  and  the  trees 

The  traitors  in  the  parliament,  give  them  a  better  deal 

Spend  the  nation's  money  to  cater  to  their  needs 

They  all  accept  our  chairity,  then  bite  the  hand  that  feeds. 

Our  forefathers  fought  in  two  world  wars,  they  thought  to  keep  us  free, 

But  I'm  not  sure  that  in  those  wars,  who  was  our  enemy 

The  Zionists  own  the  media,  and  they're  well  known  for  telling  lies, 

And  I  could  see,  that  I  could  be,  we  fought  on  the  wrong  side. 

From  "Before  the  Night  Falls" 
Band:  Skrewdriver 

Read  the  papers,  watch  TV,  hear  the  media  lie  to  me, 

On  the  radio,  in  the  news,  you  're  all  wrong  except  the  Jews, 

Doesn't  matter  who  loses  face,  if  it's  against  the  chosen  race 

From  "If  You're  White" 
Band:  Skrewdriver 

Half  our  fathers  fought  for  freedom,  you  see. 

At  least  that's  what  they  led  me  to  believe. 

So  how  come  our  nation's  overrun, 

By  alien  cultures,  the  cultures  of  the  Zionist  scum 

From  "European  Unity" 
Band:  Brutal  Attack 

Political  fools  with  media  tools 

We  are  led  by  Zionist  rules. 

Who's  the  biggest  boss  at  the  top  of  the  cross? 

Does  he  care  tour  culture  is  lost? 

The  future  looks  bleak  for  the  racially  weak 


And  all  you  cowards  with  the  yellow  streak 

From  "When  the  Hammer  Falls" 
Band:  Bound  for  Glory 

Zionist  illusions  state  of  confusions 

Are  decaying  away  my  mind, 

Feelings  of  hate  can't  get  it  straight, 

Am  I  the  only  one  of  my  kind? 

Massive  inflation  by  the  racial  infestation 

Has  turned  our  streets  to  decay, 

Racial  domination,  swift  termination 

Has  become  the  only  way 

Close  the  border,  start  the  New  Order 

Gather  your  guns,  it's  time  to  fight, 

A  call  to  arms! 

From  "A  Call  To  Arms" 
Band:  Bound  for  Glory 

I'm  the  raciad  highlord,  the  God  of  Blood, 

Shore  defender  from  the  race  of  mud,^ 

The  black  beast  slayer,  I'm  the  new  clan  chief 


New  sphere  mover,  great  stormtrooper. 

Life  controller,  I'm  the  fate  dictator 

From  "Fate  Dictator" 
Band:  No  Remorse 

As  the  heat  soars,  in  the  coming  wars. 

We'll  fight  'til  death  for  our  noble  cause, 

We'll  seek  the  red,  and  cut  off  his  head. 

With  hammer  and  gun,  we're  free  from  dread. 


One  nation,  one  race 

One  folk,  one  faith 

From  "One  Folk-One  Faith" 
Band:  No  Remorse 


Peppered  throughout  Rock-0-Rama's  Skin-head  recordings  are  passages  glorifying 
violence  and  inciting  street  warfare: 

Out  of  the  smoke,  our  blood  stained  battalions  fry 
We  charge  at  the  enemy,  no  one  unwilling  to  die 

From  "We  Fight  for  Freedom" 
Band:  Skrewdriver 

Fighting  in  the  city,  it's  a  matter  of  life  and  death 

It's  as  easy  as  black  &  white,  you'll  fight  to  your  last  breath 

From  "White  Warriors" 
Band:  Skrewdriver 

We're  attacked  behind  our  backs,  we're  doing  all  we  can 
If  the  knife  should  take  our  life,  at  least  we  never  ran 

From  "Mean  Streets" 
Band:  Skrewdriver 

Soccer  season  starts  again,  were  going  to  hit  the  violent  trail 

From  "One  Fine  Day" 
Band:  Skrewdriver 

We  live  on  the  streets  now,  we  fight  for  our  lives. 
We  fight  for  the  flag,  we're  all  willing  to  die 

From  "Flying  the  flag" 
Band:  Skrewdriver 

4  "Mud  race"  is  a  favorite  hate  movement  term  for  people  of  color. 


Strikeforce,  white  survival,  strikeforce 
Strikeforce  kills  all  rivals 

From  "Strike  Force" 
Band:  Skrewdriver 

We  will  fight  against  them  with  a  hammer  and  a  gun 

And  when  our  people  start  to  rise,  the  traitors'  time  will  come 

From  "Power  from  Profit" 
Band:  Skrewdriver 

Are  we  going  to  sit  and  let  them  come, 
Have  they  got  the  White  man  on  the  run? 
The  multi-racial  society  is  a  mess 
We  aren't  going  to  take  much  more  of  this 

From  "White  Power" 
Band:  Skrewdriver 

Do  you  remember 

Storm  troojpin'  through  the  night? 

The  beer!  'The  women! 

And  all  those  glorious  fights 

From  "The  Spirit  lives  on" 
Band:  Bound  for  Glory 

Swords  will  clash,  when  we  fight  their  trash 
We  strike  hard,  as  a  lightning  flash 

From  "One  Folk-One  Faith" 
Band:  No  Remorse 

As  noted  earlier,  Rock-0-Rama  is  the  leading  manufacturer  and  distributor  of 
Skin-head  records  in  the  world.  Its  catalogue  lists  albums  and  singles  of  "Oi"  groups 
in  the  United  States,  England,  France,  Germany,  Sweden  and  Australia.  The  music 
has  the  same  affect  in  otner  countries  as  it  does  here — the  incitement  of  racial  vio- 
lence. Germany  in  particular,  has  been  plagued  recently  by  a  serious  rise  of  such 
incidents.  There  has,  in  fact,  been  more  Nazi  violence  of  late  in  Germany  than  at 
any  time  since  the  end  of  World  War  II.  The  German  government  plainly  has  a  spe- 
cial moral  responsibility  to  help  curb  the  rise  of  this  growing  worldwide  menace. 
One  important  way  in  which  it  can  do  so  is  by  enforcing  its  own  anti-Nazi  laws 
against  Rock-O-Rama  records.  The  Anti-Defamation  league  urges  that  it  do  so  with- 
out delay. 

Appendix  A 


United  Kingdom 


PubUc  Enemy 


No  Remorse 

The  Klansmen 


Bruted  Attack 

Oi  PoUoi 

Carry  On  Oi 


Boots  and  Braces 

Indecent  Exposure 


Ian  Stuart  and  Strikeforce 


Sudden  Impact 

Elite  Terror 

The  Mad  Hatters 

5  Not  all  the  records  listed  are  necessarily  manufactured  by  Rock-O-Rama,  although  most  are. 
Some  are  produced  elsewhere  and  distributed  by  ROR  and  ISV. 


I II  nil    " 


3  9999  05983  095  8 

Condemned  84 



Bohse  Onkelz 



Die  Alluerten 






Chauves  Pourris 
Legion  SS 
Brutal  Combat 
Warrior  Kids 
Evil  Skins 

United  States 

New  Glory 
Bound  for  Glory 
Kicker  Boys 
Anti  Heroes 
Doc  Marten 
Arresting  Officers 


White  Noise 


Ultima  Thule 

Appendix  B 


1.  Clearwater,  Florida — Isaiah  Walker,  a  41-year-old  black  man,  was  stabbed  to 
death  in  December  1987  by  two  Skin-head  brothers,  members  of  a  Skin-head  gang 
called  the  Saints.  Dean  McKee,  16  at  the  time  of  the  killing,  was  convicted  of  mur- 
der and  sentenced  to  imprisonment  for  life;  Scott  McKee,  18  at  the  time  of  the  kill- 
ing, pleaded  no  contest  to  attempted  murder  and  was  sentenced  to  five  years. 

2.  San  Jose,  California — Scott  VoUmer,  a  24-year-old  white  man,  was  stabbed  to 
death  in  February  1988  by  Skin-head  Michael  Elrod  after  VoUmer  came  to  the  de- 
fense of  a  black  friend  at  a  party.  Elrod,  who  was  19  at  the  time  of  the  killing,  was 
convicted  of  manslaughter  and  sentenced  to  11  years  in  prison. 

3.  Portland,  Oregon — Mulugeta  Seraw,  a  27-year-ola  Ethiopian  immigrant,  was 
beaten  to  death  by  three  members  of  the  Portland  Skin-head  gang  East  Side  White 
Pride  in  November  1988.  Kenneth  Mieske  (a.k.a.  Ken  Death),  23  at  the  time  of  the 
murder,  was  convicted  of  second-degree  murder  and  sentenced  to  life  in  prison.  Kyle 
Brewster,  who  was  19  when  Seraw  was  killed,  was  convicted  of  manslaughter  and 
received  20  years  to  life.  Steven  Strasser,  20  at  the  time  of  the  killing,  also  was  con- 
victed of  manslaughter  and  received  20  years.  In  a  subsequent  civil  lawsuitbrought 
by  the  Anti-Defamation  League  and  the  Southern  Poverty  Law  Center  in  behalf  of 
Seraw's  family,  a  jury  determined  that  the  Skin-heads  had  been  incited  to  commit 
the  crime  by  White  Aryan  Resistance  leader  Tom  Metzger  and  his  son,  John.  A 
$12.5  million  judgment  for  Seraw's  family  was  awarded  on  October  22,  1990. 

4.  Reno  Nevada — Anthony  Lee  Montgomery,  a  27-year-old  black  man,  was  the  vic- 
tim of  a  drive-by  shooting  committed  by  Skin-heads  who  were  looking  for  a  black 
target.  Convicted  of  first-degree  murder  and  other  related  charges  in  the  December 
1988  killing  were  Matthew  D.  Faessel,  who  was  18  when  the  shooting  took  place, 
and  Michael  Scott  Stringer,  17  at  the  time  of  the  murder.  They  each  received  two 
life  sentences  plus  18  years.  Angela  Marie  Stanley,  also  17  at  the  time  of  the  mur- 
der, pleaded  guilty  to  second-degree  murder  and  was  sentenced  to  15  years.  The 


Reno  Skins,  to  which  the  three  teens  belonged,  were  afflhated  with  the  American 

5.  Denver,  Colorado — David  Timoner,  33,  a  hairstylist,  was  shot  to  death  by  Skin- 
heads in  March  1989.  Maxwell  Thomas,  18  when  he  killed  Timoner,  was  convicted 
of  first-degree  murder,  second-degree  kidnapping,  aggravated  robbery  and  second- 
degree  arson.  (After  killing  Timoner,  Thomas  torched  the  victim's  vehicle  with  his 
body  still  in  it.)  Thomas  was  sentenced  to  life  plus  73  years.  Michael  Diaz,  18  when 
the  murder  took  place,  testified  against  Thomas  and  received  the  minimum  24-year 
sentence  for  second-degree  murder  and  second-degree  kidnapping. 

6.  Pittsburgh,  Pennsylvania-Charles  B.  Davis,  47,  a  social  worker  and  University 
of  Pittsburgh  doctoral  candidate,  was  stomped  to  death  by  two  Skin-heads  in  August 
1989.  James  D.  Brough,  21  years  old  at  the  time  of  the  killing,  was  convicted  of 
first-degree  murder,  roblsery  and  conspiracy;  he  received  a  mandatory  life  sentence 
with  no  possibility  of  parole.  Richard  Gribble,  19  when  the  murder  was  committed, 
pleaded  guilty  to  murder  and  was  sentenced  to  five  to  20  years.  Brough  and  Gribble 
have  played  in  local  racist  Skin-head  rock  bands,  including  one  called  First  Strike. 
In  its  song  "Modern  Age,"  the  band  glorifies  the  sort  of  violence  that.  Brough  and 
Gribble  committed  against  Davis:  "Violence  is  the  way  I  was  bred  to  be  *  *  *A'^io- 
lence  killed  the  commies,  violence  killed  the  JewsA'^iolence  killed  the  Japs,  and  it 
will  sure  as  hell  kill  you." 

7.  Boulder,  Colorado — Norman  Dale  Hillier,  a  22-year-old  member  of  the  Hammer 
Skins,  was  beaten  to  death  in  July  1990  by  four  fellow  Hammer  Skins  for  his  boots 
and  a  small  amount  of  cash.  Jeffrey  Paul  Jucszel  (a.k.a.  Jeff  Greszik),  25  when  the 
murder  was  committed,  pleaded  guilty  to  second-degree  murder  and  was  sentenced 
to  27  years.  Steven  J.  Waltman,  18  at  the  time  of  the  killing,  and  Charles  Kenneth 
Rooks,  then  24,  pleaded  guilty  to  manslaughter  charges  and  were  both  sentenced 
to  two  to  eight  years.  Walter  Allen  McDonald,  17  at  the  time  of  the  murder,  pleaded 
guilty  to  second-degree  murder  and  was  sentenced  to  five  years,  the  maximum  sen- 
tence for  juvenile  offenders. 

8.  New  York,  New  York — JuUo  Rivera,  a  29-year-old  gay  man,  was  beaten  on  the 
head  with  a  hammer  and  stabbed  to  death  in  July  1990,  in  the  Jackson  Heights 
section  of  Queens.  The  men  charged  in  the  case  have  been  linked  by  the  police  to 
a  Skin-head  group  called  the  Doc  Marten  Stompers.  Daniel  Doyle,  20  when  Rivera 
was  killed,  pleaded  guilty  to  first-degree  manslaughter  and  received  a  sentence  of 
eight  and  a  third  to  25  years  in  prison.  Esat  Bici,  18  at  the  time  of  the  killing,  and 
Erik  Brown,  then  20,  were  convicted  of  murder  and  sentenced  to  25  years  to  Ufe. 
The  police  have  classified  the  case  as  bias-related  because  of  the  victim's  sexual 
preference,  and  the  prosecution  charged  that  the  men  sought  out  gay  people  to  at- 

9.  Houston.  Texas — Hung  Truong,  a  15-year-old  Vietnamese  boy,  was  stomped  to 
death  by  two  Skin-heads  in  August  1990.  Derek  Ian  Hilla  was  convicted  of  murder, 
sentenced  to  45  years,  and  fined  $10,000.  Kevin  Michael  Allison,  who  was  convicted 
of  involuntary  manslaughter,  received  10  years  and  a  $10,000  fine.  Both  Skin-heads 
were  18  when  Truong  was  killed.  Because  Hilla  was  found  by  the  jury  to  have  used 
a  deadly  weapon  (his  booted  feet),  he  must  serve  at  least  one-fourth  of  his  sentence 
before  becoming  eligible  for  parole. 

10.  Vancouver,  Washington — 19-year-old  racist  Skin-head  David  Richard  Lindley 
(a.k  a.  Bomber  Dave)  was  bludgeoned  to  death  in  August  1990  for  his  boots  and  his 
jacket.  His  attackers  were  four  members  of  the  Malicious  Oi  Boy's,  or  MOB,  a  fac- 
tion of  the  American  Front  Skin-head  gang  to  which  Lindley  belonged.  Richard  Scott 
Houston,  20  at  the  time  of  the  killing,  and  Timothy  Lee  Chase  (a.k.a.  Nicholas  War- 
ren Jones),  then  17  were  each  sentenced  to  141  months  for  second-degree  murder. 
Mark  Elliott  Stevenson,  17  when  Lindley  was  killed,  was  sentenced  to  123  months. 
MeUssa  McEathron,  13  at  the  time  of  the  killing,  was  convicted  as  an  accomplice 
to  manslaughter  in  the  first-degree  and  sentenced  to  224  weeks  in  a  juvenile  institu- 
tion plus  one  year  parole. 

11.  Sacramento,  California — Paul  Carrallo,  20,  a  non-racist  Skin-head,  was  fatally 
stabbed  in  August  1990  by  Skin-head  Michael  "Iron  Cross"  Ortiz,  a  member  of  the 
Sacramento  Skins.  The  stabbing  took  place  during  a  fight  between  rival  Skin-head 
factions  in  the  parking  lot  of  Beau's  Disco  &  Lounge,  also  known  as  the  Cattle  Club, 
Ortiz,  20  when  he  killed  Carrallo,  pleaded  guilty  to  manslaughter  and  was  sen- 
tenced to  nine  years  in  prison. 

12.  Chester  County  Pennsylvania — Lee  Russell  Murdock,  a  28-year-old 
Coatesville,  Pa.,  gutter  installer,  was  murdered  on  October  12,  1990  by  a  Skin-head 
angered  because  Murdock  had  taunted  him  about  his  appearance.  When  Murdock 
left  the  bar  where  the  verbal  confrontation  occurred,  he  was  beaten  with  a  crowbar, 
kicked  in  the  head  and  face,  and  stabbed  to  death  by  Skin-head  Timothy  Kleinfelter, 


19,  and  his  companion  Chris  Bocelli,  22.  Kleinfelter  and  Bocelli  were  convicted  of 
first-degree  murder  by  a  Chester  County  jury. 

13.  Arlington,  Texas — Donald  Thomas,  a  32-year-old  black  man,  was  killed  by 
Skin-heads  in  a  drive-by  shooting  in  June  1991.  Thomas  was  sitting  in  the  back  of 
a  pick-up  truck  with  two  white  friends  in  southeast  Arlington  when  he  was  killed 
by  a  blast  from  a  16-gauge  shotgun  fired  from  a  passing  car.  The  three  white  male 
youths  charged  in  the  shooting  are  said  by  police  to  be  members  of  the  Confederate 
Hammer  Skins;  all  were  16  at  the  time.  One  teen  pleaded  guilty  to  a  juvenile  delin- 
quency charge  of  murder.  The  two  others  are  to  be  tried  as  adults:  Christopher  Wil- 
ham  Brosky  on  one  count  of  murder  and  one  count  of  engaging  in  organized  crime, 
and  William  George  "Trey"  Roberts  III,  believed  to  have  pulled  the  trigger.  PoUce 
classify  the  crime  as  a  random  racial  shooting. 

14.  Port  Arthur f  Texas — Charles  E.  Sides,  a  36-year-old  white  man  who  was  un- 
dergoing treatment  for  mental  illness,  was  found  stabbed  to  death  on  October  7, 
1991.  Sides  had  been  stabbed  more  than  15  times,  and  his  ear  was  partially  sev- 
ered. Two  17-year-  old  Skin-heads,  Darrel  Ray  Hughes  and  Arron  Lee  Malone,  are 
charged  with  murder  in  the  case.  The  evidence  against  them  is  strong,  and  one  has 
discussed  the  kiUing  with  the  press.  Police  beUeve  the  two  committed  the  crime  in 
order  to  prove  themselves  as  Skin-heads. 


The  Anti-Defamation  League  has  monitored  the  neo-Nazi  Skin-heads  since  they 
first  appeared  on  the  American  scene  in  1984.  The  League  has  issued  five  reports 
on  the  phenomenon,  emphasizing  that  communities  must  be  informed  about  Skin- 
head activities  and  be  ready  to  counter  them  through  education  and  vigorous  law 
enforcement.  We  have  met  with  former  United  States  Attorney  General  Dick 
Thomburgh,  other  officials  of  the  Department  of  Justice  and  many  state  and  local 
law  enforcement  officers,  alerting  them  to  this  growing  menace.  The  Justice  Depart- 
ment has  formed  a  special  task  force  which  has  successfully  prosecuted  Skin-head 
gangs  in  several  cities.  ADL,  in  cooperation  with  the  Southern  Povertjr  Law  Center, 
brought  a  successful  civil  lawsuit  in  Oregon  in  behalf  of  the  family  of  an  Ethiopian 
immigrant  who  had  been  murdered  by  Skin-heads.  The  jury  awarded  the  family 
$12V2  million,  to  be  paid  mainlv  by  Tom  Metzger,  a  California  white  supremacist 
leader  who  incited  the  Skin-heads  to  commit  the  crime. 

ADL  was  founded  in  1913.  Its  mission  is  "To  stop  the  defamation  of  the  Jewish 
people;  to  secvu"e  justice  and  fair  treatment  for  all  citizens  alike." 

Tne  League  monitors  and  exposes  extremist  and  hate  organizations  to  public  scru- 
tiny. Its  annual  audit  measures  and  analyzes  incidents  of  violence,  vandalism  and 
harassment  against  Jews  and  Jewish  property  throughout  the  nation.  The  ADL 
audit  has  been  used  as  a  reference  tool  by  the  FBI,  which  is  responsible  for  imple- 
menting the  recently-enacted  Federal  Hate  Crimes  Statistics  Act. 

The  resources  of  law  and  the  mechanism  of  the  courts  are  regularly  employed  by 
the  League  to  halt  reUgious  or  racial  discrimination  and  to  challenge  violations  of 
constitutional  rights. 

ADL  alerts  and  sensitizes  the  public  to  its  findings  through  cooperation  with  the 
media,  educators,  legislators  and  law  enforcement  authorities.  Its  30  regional  offices 
mobilize  the  communities  thee  serve  for  effective  education  and  peaceful  counter- 
action against  extremist  and  racist  activities  by  the  far-right  and  far-lefl. 

The  collapse  of  Communism  in  central  and  eastern  Europe  and  the  effort  to  build 
democracj^  and  free  market  economies  there  offer  great  promise,  but  a  resurrected 
anti-Semitism  abroad  and  increasing  violence  bom  of  bigotry  here  at  home  require 
steady  vigilance  and  vigorous  counteraction. 

These  and  other  issues  constitute  ADL's  agenda  in  this  last  decade  of  the  20th 

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